What does Jesus dying on the cross really mean?
We often hear about Jesus dying on the cross to save us of our sins. I’ve heard this saying over and over. But, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when it is said just like this. It is like trying to understand the plot of a movie by watching a trailer. Sure you will get the basic idea. But, there is a lot more to be seen in a two hour movie that a three minute preview can give. Such is the same when someone asks if you believe that you are a sinner and trust in Jesus who died for your sins. If you want to know what this really means, please continue reading.
Like all good stories, we have to start at the beginning. In a place long long ago and if you are living in the United States like I am, far far away. In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth. That means everything we see. This is huge because we, as humans, can not create anything. We can only take what is already here and reshape it into something else. God filled the earth with plants and animals and then created us, humans in God’s image. What does this mean? A King will make a statue in the center of his kingdom so that when people look at it, they will see an image of the king and know who the king is. We are the same. When you look at us, we are created to display God’s glory. As you know, this doesn’t happen all to often and that is because of sin. Adam and Eve sinned when they wanted to be like God and ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. What is ironic is that they were already like God. Ever since this sin we have been born into a sinful nature.
This is such a key term, this sinful nature. It means that it is in our core, in our being, that we are a sinful person. It was once said by a missionary named Paul Washer, “if I were to put on the screen a video of your thoughts and desires and made them public for all to see, you would run far away and never come back.” This isn’t just true for you, this is true for me as well. At the core of our being is a horrible and wretched person that we do our best to keep away from our neighbors, our social media, and even our children and spouse. Yet, it is ultimately who we are.
Now comes the biggest problem in the entire Bible and of our entire existence. How can a Holy, Perfect, Just God, be with a sinful people? This is it. Right here is the drama of the entire Bible and the problem of our existence. If God forgives us, then He is no longer Just, Perfect, or Holy. Why can’t God be Just and forgive us if we ask for forgiveness? The missionary I mentioned above shares another story that is very helpful in understanding and I’ll do my best to paraphrase from memory. Imagine you come home to your family and see that your home was broken into and your parents and children and spouse murdered. In a fit of rage you tackle the person but in a moment of clarity you spare his life and tie him up for the cops. He then comes before the judge to be sentenced. The judge looks at the criminal and decides out of love, he is going to pardon him and let him go because he was sorry. With that they remove the handcuffs and he walks free.
If this happened you wouldn’t be able to stand it. You would call for the judges removal and that he was no longer fit to be a judge. You would petition law makers and picket the courthouse to demand justice. The judge is no longer a just judge because justice was not served. The same thing is true if God would to let you go unpunished. God would no longer be a Just and Holy God. The Bible teaches us that the price of sin is death. It is because of this payment that needs to be paid that Jesus comes. God sends His son to earth to teach us what it means to love God and to love others. Then, and the ultimate reason for coming, takes the sin of the world onto himself and pays the penalty that we should have paid in our place. So he was whipped? Beaten? Crucified? Yes. But, that wasn’t the worse part. These were all horrible and part of the plan. Yet, if this was all, we would still be in the same situation. It is during the time on the cross that Jesus, who was perfect, took all the sin of the world onto himself and was separated from God. It is then we hear him say through the Bible, “Father, why have you forsaken me!” Separation from God was required to pay for sin. Then the wrath of God, that was due for us, was released not on us, but onto Jesus. Jesus felt the full wrath and fury of His Father and was crushed on our behalf.
Three days later He was raised from the dead. The offering was accepted, the payment was complete. Through the death of Jesus our sins have been paid. When someone asks if you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. This is what they are talking about. Do you believe in this. Do you accept this sacrifice and do you give your life to following Jesus? Before you say yes, understand that it isn’t just believing that this happened. Yes, the Bible says that all who believe will have everlasting life. But, the Bible also says many other things about this life conversion. It says that we will know a Christian by their fruits. In other words we will know a Christian by how they live their life. They shouldn’t look like others. They shouldn’t talk, or act, or post, or do things like they used to. This doesn’t mean that they are perfect. But it does mean that when a Christian messes up, they feel the weight of their sin and know that what they are doing is wrong and the urge to repent (ask for forgiveness and turn from this activity) is very strong. They are a new creation. The old is gone and the new is here.
So, how do you do this? How do you become a true Christian? Sorry to say this, but you can’t do anything. It is a work of God. What! You might say. You went through all of this just to say it is hopeless? Not fully. To believe this, is a work of the Holy Spirit. To most, this is a crazy story and you would be foolish to believe it. If that is you. Like I said, there is nothing you can do. But, if you do believe this story. If you do believe that you are a sinner as I shared before. Then you are to believe in Jesus and what He did for you. You are to repent of your sins. All of them. Ask for forgiveness and turn from them immediately. Pray to God to give you the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit will dwell inside of you spiritually and guide you and help you become who God wants you to be. We are to submit ourselves to this new life and ask God to continue to chip away at our old person. Then meditate and study the Bible day and night. Learn it, love it, live it. Then share it with others.
There is so much more to talk about and to share and to go over. But, this is where it all begins. If you have any further questions. Please let me know and I would be happy to help in anyway I can.