Born to die

306 born to die The Christian faith proclaims the message that the Son of God became flesh at a predetermined place in time and lived among us humans. Jesus was so remarkable in personality that some even questioned his being human. However, the Bible always emphasizes that he was actually God in flesh - born of a woman - human, so apart from our sinfulness he was like us in every respect (John 1,14:4,4; Galatians 2,7; Philippians 2,17; Hebrews). He was actually human. The incarnation of Jesus Christ is usually celebrated with Christmas, even if it actually started with Mary's pregnancy, according to the traditional calendar on March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation (formerly also called the festival of the incarnation or incarnation of God).

Christ the crucified

As important as we believe the conception and birth of Jesus may be, they are not the first priority of the message of faith that we bring to the world. When Paul preached in Corinth, he proclaimed a far more provocative message: that of Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1,23).

The Greco-Roman world knew many stories of deities born, but no one ever heard of a crucified one. It was grotesque - something akin to granting people salvation if they believed only in an executed criminal. But how should it be possible to be saved by a criminal?

However, that was the crucial point - the Son of God suffered a shameful death on the cross like a criminal and only then did he regain glory through the resurrection. Peter explained to the high council: "The God of our fathers raised Jesus ... God raised him up with his right hand as prince and savior to give Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5,30: 31). Jesus was raised from the dead and exalted to redeem our sins.

However, Peter did not fail to go into the embarrassing part of the story: "... which you hung on the wood and killed." The term "wood" undoubtedly reminded the Jewish faith leaders of the words in Deuteronomy 5:21,23: "... a hanged man is cursed to God."

Geez! Why did Peter have to bring this up? He did not try to circumnavigate the socio-political cliff, but rather consciously included this aspect. His message was not just that Jesus died, but in this dishonoring way. This was not only part of the message, it was also its central message. When Paul preached in Corinth, he wanted the central concern of his proclamation not only to understand the death of Christ as such, but to see his death on the cross (1 Corinthians 1,23).

In Galatia, he obviously used a particularly vivid expression: "... which Jesus Christ was painted before the eyes of the crucified one" (Galatians 3,1). Why did Paul put so much emphasis on such a terrible death that Scripture saw as a sure sign of God's curse?

Was that necessary?

Why did Jesus have to suffer such a terrible death at all? Paul had probably dealt with this question in detail for a long time. He had seen the risen Christ and knew that God had sent the Messiah in this very man. But why should God let that anointed one die of death that Scripture sees as a curse? (So ​​Muslims do not believe that Jesus was crucified. In their eyes, he was a prophet, and God would hardly have ever allowed this to happen to him in this capacity. They take the view that someone else was crucified instead of Jesus been.)

Indeed, Jesus prayed in the Gethsemane garden that there might be another way for him, but there was none. Herod and Pilate merely did what God "predestined should happen" - namely, that he should die in this cursed manner (Acts 4,28; Zurich Bible).

Why? Because Jesus died for us - for our sins - and because of our sinfulness we are cursed. Even our minor abuses amount to crucifixion in their reprehensibility before God. All humanity is cursed because it is guilty of sin. But the good news, the gospel, promises: "But Christ has released us from the curse of the law, since he became the curse for us" (Galatians 3,13). Jesus was crucified for each of us. He took the pain and the shame that we deserve to bear.

Other analogies

However, this is not the only analogy that the Bible shows us, and Paul only addresses this particular point of view in one of his letters. More often than not, he simply says that Jesus "died for us". At first glance, the phrase chosen here just looks like a simple exchange: we deserved death, Jesus offered to voluntarily die for us, and so we are spared this.

However, it is not quite that simple. For one thing, we humans still die. And from another point of view, we die with Christ (Romans 6,3-5). Following this analogy, Jesus' death was both representative of us (he died at our place) as well as participatory (ie we share in his death by dying with him); which makes it fairly clear what is important: we are redeemed by the crucifixion of Jesus, so we can only be saved by the cross of Christ.

Another analogy chosen by Jesus himself uses ransom as a comparison: "... the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10,45). As if we were held captive by an enemy and Jesus' death secured us freedom.

Paul makes a similar comparison by saying that we have been ransomed. This term may remind some readers of the slave market, others perhaps also of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Slaves could be ransomed from slavery, and so God also freely purchased the people of Israel from Egypt. By sending his son, our Heavenly Father bought us dearly. He took the punishment for our sins.

In Colossians 2,15 another picture is used for comparison: «... he completely disarmed the powers and the powers and put them on public display. In him [in the cross] he held triumph over her » (Elberfeld Bible). The picture drawn here represents a victory parade: the victorious military leader brings the disarmed, humiliated prisoners to the city in chains. This passage in the letter to the Colossians makes it clear that by crucifixion Jesus Christ broke the power of all his enemies and won us for us.

The Bible conveys to us the message of salvation in pictures and not in the form of firmly established, immutable beliefs. For example, Jesus' sacrificial death is ours instead of just one of many images of which the Holy Scriptures make use of to make the crucial point clear. Just as sin is described in many ways, Jesus' work to redeem our sins can be presented differently. If we regard sin as breaking the law, we can recognize in the crucifixion an act of punishment performed in our place. If we regard them as violations of God's holiness, we see in Jesus the atoning sacrifice. When it pollutes us, the blood of Jesus washes us clean. If we subjugate ourselves, Jesus is our Savior, our victorious liberator. Wherever she sows enmity, Jesus brings reconciliation. If we see in it a sign of ignorance or stupidity, it is Jesus who gives us enlightenment and wisdom. All these pictures are a help to us.

Does God's anger appease?

Godlessness causes God's anger, and it will be a "day of anger" on which he judges the world (Romans 1,18; 2,5). Those who "disobey the truth" will be punished (Verse 8). God loves people and would rather see them change, but He punishes them if they persistently oppose him. Those who shut themselves off from the truth of God's love and grace will receive their punishment.

Unlike an angry person who has to be appeased before he can calm down, he loves us and made sure that our sins could be forgiven. So they were not simply wiped out, but transferred to Jesus with real consequences. "He made the one who knew no sin into sin for us" (2 Corinthians 5,21; Zurich Bible). Jesus became a curse for us, he became a sin for us. Just as our sins were transferred to him, his righteousness passed to us "so that we could become God's righteousness in him" (itself verse). We have been given righteousness by God.

The revelation of God's righteousness

The gospel reveals God's righteousness - that he is righteous to forgive us instead of judging us (Romans 1,17). He does not ignore our sins, but takes care of them with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The cross is a sign of both God's righteousness (Romans 3,25: 26) as well as his love (5,8). It stands for justice because it adequately reflects the punishment of sin by death, but at the same time for love because the forgiver willingly accepts the pain.

Jesus paid the price for our sins - the personal price in the form of pain and shame. He got reconciliation (the restoration of a personal community) through the cross (Colossians 1,20). Even when we were still enemies, he died for us (Romans 5,8).
Justice is more than law-abiding. The Good Samaritan obeyed no law requiring him to help the wounded, but he acted right by helping.

If it is in our power to save a drowning person, we should not hesitate to do it. And so it was in the power of God to save a sinful world, and he did so by sending Jesus Christ. «... it is the reconciliation for our sins, not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world» (1 John 2,2). He died for all of us, and he did it even "when we were still sinners".

By faith

God's mercy towards us is a sign of his righteousness. He acts fairly by giving us justice even though we are sinners. Why? Because he made Christ our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1,30). Since we are united with Christ, our sins pass to him and we attain His righteousness. We do not have our righteousness out of ourselves, but it comes from God and is given to us through our faith (Philippians 3,9).

"But I am talking about righteousness before God, which comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Because there is no difference here: they are all sinners and lack the glory that they should have with God, and without merit do justice to His grace through the salvation that has come through Christ Jesus. God set it up for faith as an atonement in his blood to prove his righteousness by forgiving the sins that were previously committed in the time of his patience, in order to prove his righteousness at this time that he himself is just and just make the one who is there from faith in Jesus » (Romans 3,22-26).

Jesus' Atonement was for everyone, but only those who believe in him will receive the blessings that come with it. Only those who accept the truth can experience grace. We recognize his death as ours (as the death he suffered instead of ours, in which we participate); and like his punishment, we recognize his victory and resurrection as ours. So God is true to himself - is merciful and just. Sin is overlooked just as little as it is about sinners themselves. God's mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2,13).

Through the cross, Christ reconciled the whole world (2 Corinthians 5,19). Yes, the whole universe is reconciled to God through the cross (Colossians 1,20). Salvation is given to all of creation from what Jesus did! That really goes beyond everything we associate with the term salvation, doesn't it?

Born to die

The bottom line is that we are saved by the death of Jesus Christ. Yes, that's why he became meat. In order to lead us to glory, God pleased to let Jesus suffer and die (Hebrews 2,10). Because he wanted to redeem us, he became like us; because only by dying for us could he save us.

"Now that the children are of flesh and blood, he also accepted it equally, so that by his death he would take away the power from those who had control over death, namely the devil, and redeemed those who were afraid of death as a whole Life had to be servants » (2,14-15). By God's grace, Jesus suffered death for each of us (2,9). "... Christ once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, so that he led you to God ..." (1 Peter 3,18).

The Bible gives us many opportunities to reflect on what Jesus did for us on the cross. We certainly do not understand in detail how everything “interrelates”, but we accept that it is so. Because he died, we can joyfully share eternal life with God.

Finally, I would like to take up another aspect of the cross - that of the model:
«In it appeared the love of God among us, that God sent his only begotten son into the world so that we should live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be atonement for our sins. Beloved, if God loved us so, we should also love each other » (1 John 4,9: 11).

by Joseph Tkach

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