The Love of Christ
There are so many facets of Jesus, it would take a lifetime to unpack them all. Here are some of the ways that we know him though. He is the Son of God, the Bridegroom, Savior, our Advocate, our High Priest. We know him as the Author and Perfecter of our faith. The thing I hear more than anything about Jesus is that he is love. The part people sometimes do not understand is just how sacrificial his love is.
We should know how costly this sacrificial love is. It is easy to say, "Jesus died for you", but how many people really know what that means and why that was necessary? This certainly is not going to be one of those "feel good" posts that you are going to share as a way of encouraging others. This is the smallest glimpse of the hard truth of sacrifice and why it was needed. We will never understand the love of Christ until we understand the sacrifice of Christ. Will you step back with me into the Old Testament and take a peek into what is going to feel a lot like pagan ritualistic ceremonies that we see in the movies?
My prayer for you as you read this is that the Lord will open your heart to understand the truth of sacrificial love.
We are introduced to Christ as a part of the Trinity immediately in Genesis 1:26.
We see the need for Christ and the promise of Christ within the first few chapters of Genesis. In these early pages of scripture (Genesis 3:1-24) we see that there is going to be a war for our souls. A war waged with sin and an enemy that wants to keep us in the bondage of sin.
We were not created to be sinful. Our struggle with sin started in the Garden of Eden and ended with eternal consequences. The consequences of sin are separation from God. Jesus came to give us the opportunity to overcome sin.
In order to understand the sacrifice of Jesus, we must understand the need for the shedding of blood. Sin is costly and leads to death. (Romans 6:23) You might be tempted to think “I did this thing you call sin and I didn’t die.” That is the same lie that Adam and Eve believed as well. There is a physical death, and there is a spiritual death. Jesus has overcome death through his resurrection. For those who accept Christ, they will go through a physical death that leads to eternal glory. For those who do not accept Christ, there is a physical and spiritual death that leads to eternal suffering.
The only way we can be forgiven by God is through a blood sacrifice. (Hebrews 9:22) Before Christ, the priests did this by slaughtering an animal. God gave specific instructions as to how the slaughter was to happen and then what to do with the blood, and pieces of the animal. In order for the sacrifice to be acceptable, the animal had to be perfect and without defect. You couldn't just send any animal, it had to the one of most value. The sacrifice had to be costly. This ceremony had to be repeated year after year or as instructed by God. It is also important to make mention of the fact that the only people allowed to make sin offerings to God were the priests he had chosen.
Jesus, being fully man, fully God was not affected by the Fall so he is without sin or stain. This is what made him the perfect sacrifice. He only had to suffer death once to secure our standing with God. The other aspect of Jesus being the Lamb of God was that he has now become our High Priest. He is the one that makes intercession for us before the Most Holy God. We now have a personal relationship with the Godhead and do not have to go through anyone else.
There was a moment just before Jesus gave in to death, covered in the sins of the world, that God the Father could not look at him. Remember, God cannot be in the presence of sin and Jesus was covered in it. Can you just imagine this for a moment? You and I don't have any idea what it is like to be without God, even if you don't believe or accept him, he still surrounds you. Until this moment, Jesus had never been separated from God, and knowing that the sin that covered him meant that God could not look upon him was too much for him. His words are haunting and heartbreaking: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew: 27:45-46)
God was willing to allow his only son to be tortured to the point of death;
Jesus was willing to take on the sins of the world and be the perfect sacrifice;
They did this so that we could be in relationship with them both now, and for all of eternity.
Jesus is love, and we should all know just how costly this love is. This love is also in perfect union with God the Father. One doesn't operate in contradiction of the other; meaning what God calls sin, Jesus calls sin. Jesus was led to the cross to be accused, to be beaten, and to die a torturous death so that you and I could live, despite our sinful nature. Once we have accepted Christ and confessed that we are sinners, God accepts us through the blood of Christ.
Jesus lived his life in service to the Father first, and then to all people. There was nothing about Jesus' time on earth that was about service to himself. He did not make decisions about which people were worthy or not worthy, he died so that EVERY SINGLE PERSON would have the choice to live in the freedom that he gave his life for. Jesus didn't come so that we could remain dead in sin, he came to raise us to life.
May we never forget the price that was paid for our lives. May we always remember how Jesus demonstrated his love for us, sacrificially, hanging on a cross.