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Author Topic: Why Was the Cross Necessary? -- An Easter Musing  (Read 1664 times)
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« on: April 19, 2014, 07:43:14 am »

Given that Easter is upon us, I thought this reminder of the necessity of the sacrifice of Jesus would be timely:

Why Was the Cross Necessary?
by C.W.Booth

One blogger correctly noted that Mel Gibson, in his movie, The Passion of the Christ, neglected to explain the purpose or necessity of Jesus' death, instead Gibson spent all his screen time illustrating the pain of Jesus' execution.  That blogger who made the observation about Gibson's film, himself a Jesuit, then went on to posit why he thought it was necessary for Jesus to die on a cross.

Among the reasons the blogger listed were:
1) to show us that death was not to be feared because Jesus went there and came back
2) to show us that being forsaken by God is not to be feared because Jesus went there and came back
3) to show us that suffering is not to be feared because Jesus went there and came back
4) to show us that sin is not to be feared because Jesus became sin and still attained Heaven.

Perhaps a better way to understand the sacrifice of Jesus is not to focus on man's fears and speculations, but rather to give attention to what the Bible calls the debts man owes to God, debts which lead to man's worst fears.  In other words, we fear death and alienation from God because we know we have robbed God and that He still requires that debt to be retired.

Every person owes God one perfect life.  Is that not what the Bible says when it commands, "Be perfect as God is perfect," or that God cannot and will not overlook sin and that He cannot look approvingly on any sin?  Is that not what He meant when He warned Adam and Eve that merely one sin would force them out of Paradise?  Did not Jesus tell the rich man that eternal life required him to perform every last commandment of the Law?  

for every person has committed at least one sin and therefore disqualifies himself or herself from entering God's eternal glory (Romans 3:23, paraphrased by author)

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned-- (Romans 5:12)

Romans 5:12 is shocking in its clarity.  "because every person has sinned at least once they have earned death for himself or herself, beginning with Adam."  In other words, God gave us human life in exchange for one expectation, that we not sin when we live our lives.  But no one has ever been willing to be perfectly holy (except Jesus) and since God expects us to live that holy life we have all broken our contracts with God and now owe Him a debt.  We each owe Him one sinless human life.

Of course we cannot pay our debt of one-sinless-life, because when we committed our first sin we squandered the payment we owed to God.  No matter how good we live from now on, we cannot provide the full payment.  Half a perfect life is still only half of what we owe to God.  What we still owe to God is our "sin debt."  

What will we do?  Will we bargain with God?  "Hey, God, psssst, over here.  I got half of a perfect life for 'ya, some real shiny pocket change, and a used fishing boat...we good now?"  To someone who is entirely wealthy, holy, and possesses a sense of perfect justice such bribery attempts will be insulting.  He wants a perfect life, that is what He is owed, and He will not accept a lesser substitute.  

As a penalty for not paying our obligation of "one perfect life" God will alienate us to eternal death, away from His glory.  No amount of time in Hell accrues toward our debt because the debt is a perfect life and a sinner in Hell is still a sinner in Hell no matter how much he ages.

And that is why the cross was necessary.  Jesus lived that one perfect human life.  Because He never earned a death sentence, not a human death sentence, not an eternal death sentence.  No sin, no death.  Because He was sinless He would have lived forever on Earth to be worshipped as God eternally by those who chose to believe in Him as God.

Instead, Jesus drafted a new contract.  He would give up His right to live on Earth as a perfect human forever and would swap out that right and allow Himself to die (to take on the curse of human death) if we would agree to be spiritually re-born as His disciples and so be given a promise of eternal life.  

It is important to understand that Jesus did all the work.  Jesus lived the perfect life which we refused to live.  Jesus willingly gave up His perfect perpetual human life on earth and voluntarily died, a curse He did not earn.  Jesus offers to substitute His righteous work to fully replace our debt of sin.  We do nothing.  He does it all just because He loves us.  

God will not accept a lesser substitute for our sin debt of the one-perfect-human-life which we refused to give Him.  But God will accept a greater substitute; Christ's human life having been worth much more than ours.

If we agree to the substitution, His eternal human life is credited to us, as if we had done it ourselves.  His real holiness is attributed to us and in God's accounting we have become holy, even though we did nothing good to earn that positive outcome on our balance sheet.

We accept the contract, the substitution, by allowing ourselves to be re-born by the Holy Spirit.  We acknowledge our debt of sin to God, we express in prayer our sorrow over having robbed God, and we tell God we desire to become Christ's obedient disciples, His modern believers.  

As a result, even though we have done nothing to earn or merit eternal life (in fact we are robbers who tried to steal from God), because of Christ Jesus He forgives us our sin debt, allows the Holy Spirit to regenerate us into children of God, and delivers to us an unbreakable pledge of eternal life.  

That is why the cross was necessary.  It was necessary that Jesus voluntarily give up His perfect human life, because it was that life that became a substitute for us.  Yes, it is unbalanced:  one life of God on earth for the eternal souls of every human.  In fact, the life of God would have bought salvation for tens of thousands of worlds of people, but that illustrates the lavish love of Christ toward us, the humans of earth.

The cross was necessary to pay the debt of sin we owed to God.  Now, all we owe to God is our eternal gratitude (Hebrews 12:28) and to act and live as is proper of people who have been adopted as children of the living King of Kings.

Sermon, "Why Was the Cross Necessary"  -- http://thefaithfulword.org/lukec7v36.mp3
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