I Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
Many and varied are the ways that man tries to get closer to God. New religions spring up all the time, each seeking to find the right way to become whole. Hundreds of self-help books are shelved at each book store, none quite adequately fulfilling our quest. None quite bringing us into that place where we stand in right relationship with our Creator.
It’s sad that we spend so much time searching when the answer our souls seek has already been given. We don’t attain enlightenment by searching within ourselves. We don’t achieve entrance into heaven through doing enough good deeds. There is one way to God and He is Christ Jesus. He is our Savior, our King, our friend. From Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36) and not one thing was created that was not created by Him (John 1:3). He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and only He qualifies to mediate between God and man (John 14:6).We can try to fix ourselves, try to gain knowledge, or try to work our way to righteousness, but in the end it’s all in vain. Only Christ can save us. Only He can set us free (John 8:32).
Passage: Matthew 28:1-10
Key verses: Matthew 28:6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
The truth about the work of Christ on the cross, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reconciliation with God is that it all means nothing if our God is still lying in a tomb. Jesus can’t mediate between God and man if He’s dead. If His death is the end, then we’re no better off.
But – our God lives. He isn’t dead. Death couldn’t hold Him. Hell couldn’t defeat Him. He is risen. He lives. And because He lives, we live. Jesus’ departure back into heaven is hope for us all that we’ll be resurrected as well, taken from this life into the next, never to die again. But it means something now too.
Because Jesus departed, God sent the Holy Spirit to live within us. His departure means we now act on His behalf as Christians, and He’s empowered us to do so. No other religion on earth can make these claims because no other religion has a living Savior. We have a God so loving that He would sacrifice His Son in our place, and that God is so powerful that death cannot be the end for Him. HE IS RISEN!
Passage: John 19:28-30
Key verses: Colossians 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Since the sin of our first parents, we’ve been on the path of destruction. Only perfection can enter into the kingdom of heaven and we’re tainted. Our sinful nature bought for us a ticket straight to eternity away from God. But the story doesn’t end there.
You see, God couldn’t let it end that way. He loved His creation far too much to let us have what we deserved, so in the ultimate act of love, Jesus became flesh, God bankrupted heaven of its treasure, and He delivered us from destruction. Our debt was paid in His sacrifice. Everything we owed was paid in full when He died on that cross. He transferred us to His kingdom, a life spent with God, not apart from Him. He redeemed us.
In Christ we have full forgiveness. Our slate is clean, our record is wiped out. We owe Him everything, because He has set us free. In Him we have life. His death finished the work that He was sent here to do. But still the story doesn’t end there. No, that part of the story gets us to Friday – but Sunday is the part that makes it all mean something. Sunday is the main event.
Passage: Luke 23:26-49
Key verses: Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Entire courses are taught at universities just to try and explain Jesus’ work on the cross. The atonement is not easy to understand, but it is simple. God came down to earth in human flesh, lived a sinless life, and then died as the one true spotless sacrifice that could take away our sins. Without this one truth, all the rest falls apart.
Jesus took on our sins. Read that again. Jesus, the perfect Son of God, took on our sins upon Himself. He took our punishment, bought our redemption. That is the only reason you and I will ever see heaven. It’s not because of how many good deeds we did or how nice we are. It’s because we were bought and paid for by the blood of Christ. Let that sink in. Weep over the fact that it was necessary.
My sins nailed Him to that cross. Your sins drove those spikes in. Our rejection of God killed Him. And He chose to be there. As the one, true, all-powerful God, He could have ended this any way He wanted. But He chose the cross. He chose suffering in our place. Because He loved us. Even before we existed. That’s the truth of the cross.
John 19:16-18 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus,17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them
Oh the cross. The symbol we uphold as a wonderful sign of God’s love for us was viewed as a symbol of torture for the people of Jesus’ day. What we wear around our necks as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice was used by the Romans as a reminder of who was in control. Or so they thought they were in control.
The beauty of the cross is that it was not forced upon Jesus. He knew full well when He stepped out of eternity into time and space that He would face the betrayal of Judas Iscariot, the denial of Peter, the abandonment by the rest of the twelve, the scourge of the whip, and the torture of the cross. He knew it, and He chose to come anyway. His love for mankind compelled Him to do so. God’s plan of redemption from the beginning was completed in Jesus’ act of willingness to go to the cross.
He endured every moment of pain for you and for me, that we might be reconciled to God. There’s no greater gift ever given in all the world that God becoming a man to die for our sins. We so often look to Jesus for what He can do for us – and not what He DID for us. We look to Him for what He can give us – and not what He GAVE us. He gave us himself, and there is nothing that compares.
We don’t need treasures. Jesus is our treasure. We don’t need pleasures. We can delight in Christ. We don’t need respect and position, the humble, suffering servant bought and paid for our standing with God. He is our gift. If we accept the offer.