Now we get to a question that has always interested me. Why did God decide to come to earth and die? I mean, he is God! He can do what he wants, right? The answer I have read in various books and heard in sermons is that of course he can do what he wants to do! The issue is that God has something similar to (but of course much greater than) a personality. He loves us, but he also has a strong sense of justice. He tells us the difference between right and wrong, and expects us to follow his rules. Because of his sense of justice, he needs to punish us when we do not follow those rules.
Any parent is in a similar situation with a child. You love the child, you want the best for the child, but you also expect the child to follow your rules. Let’s look at an example of this; your child is an adult, and every time he comes to your house he steals something of value. Would you continue to invite that child to your house? Of course not! If the child came to you one day and said, Mom/Dad, I am sorry. I have been stealing from you for years, and I feel very bad about it. I wish I could take back what I have done, but I do not have the ability to pay for what I have taken. Would you try to fix the relationship? Most parents would give it a try. Both the parent and the child would always remember the incidents however, and there might continue to be a feeling by either of a debt owed.
God’s love for us and his need for justice prompted him to die for us. Why? Because we have broken his rules (sinned), and there is a debt owed. What is the debt in this case? According to Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Frankly, this price seems high to me, but then again, I am not God. If God thinks one thing and I think another thing, I am wrong. But death? Why so severe?
God is perfect, and created humans as perfect. Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” In Genesis 1:31 we are told that, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (referring to everything he had made, not just humans)” So God is a perfect being, and created us in his image as perfect beings. Adam and Eve had the choice to sin or not sin, and they decided to sin. How did they sin? God gave them one rule and explained to them the idea that the wages for sin is death. In Genesis 2:17. God told them, “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” This seems like a fairly straight-forward rule. When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, they introduced sin into the world, and made humans less than perfect.
To me, the concepts of perfection and infinity are very similar. Infinity is a number that cannot be added to or subtracted from. Infinity minus one is infinity, and infinity divided by 10 is still infinity. It cannot be broken into smaller pieces. If infinity can be changed, then you never had infinity. Perfection cannot be added to or subtracted from either. You are either perfect or not perfect. If perfection means that you never tell a lie, then once you tell a lie, you are no longer perfect. This is true, even if you only told one lie when you were 15 years old, and you are now 100 years old and on your death-bed. Once you told that lie, you no longer had perfection, even though every word you said for the next 85 years had been true. God is perfect and we are not. How can perfection and imperfection be together?
God gave the Jewish people a method of atoning for their sin, and this method was sacrifice. The Jewish people were to give the first 10% of everything they had to the priests, and regularly sacrifice animals for the forgiveness of sin. The Bible tells us two things about this issue that are important here: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (Leviticus 17:11) God requires a life for payment of sin, but gave us a method for using the life of animals instead of our own blood to atone for our sins. This was not however a perfect solution, because animals are not equal to man. It was the best that could be done however, until God provided a more perfect sacrifice.
Jesus came to us to provide the perfect sacrifice. He was both God and Man; He was free of the sin nature that Adam and Eve thrust on humanity, but he had to face the same temptations as every person who ever lived. When Jesus died on the cross, the perfect one sacrificed his life for the imperfect ones (all of us); the sinless one died for us sinners. All that is required now for us to be saved is that we believe that Jesus died for us, and ask him for forgiveness of our sins.
I used to wonder why we had to believe on Jesus and ask him for forgiveness. I mean, if not believing in Jesus as the Son of God is a sin, and through Jesus all sins are forgiven, wouldn’t we be forgiven by definition? The problem is that this sacrifice is only ours if we ask for it and accept it. For example, Let’s say that 10 people are going to a movie. The first person says, “I will buy all of our tickets”, but one of the people in line says, “I will not allow you to buy my ticket.” These two people may discuss it for a while, but if the second person refuses to accept the free ticket, he will need to pay his own way.
Jesus bought this particular ticket for us. He said that if we accept his sacrifice as being for us, that he will forgive our sins. He is able to do this because his blood (life) is greater than our sins and can erase them. If we do not accept the ticket he provides, we need to pay our own way. This could be looked at as meaning that we need to do good works to earn our way to heaven. This brings up one important question however; how much work will an imperfect person need to do to become perfect? If perfection and imperfection cannot dwell together, then we either need to become perfect (which is impossible without Jesus’ sacrifice) or we will not be able to dwell with God.
Here are some verses from the Tanakh that discuss this issue.