Rescuers of people
This is the Gospel of Jesus.
God and us
Central to life are our relationships. Relationship with our family and friends are necessary for our survival, and they play an important role in our well-being and happiness. Similarly, Christianity, at its core, is about relationships. God designed us to be relationship with him and each other. When someone asked Jesus, ‘what is the most important thing that a Christian should do’, he replied, ‘… love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength … and love others as much as you love yourself.’ (Mark 12:29-31 CEV)
When God created the world, he gave people the responsibility to look after the world with him. He wants us to take care of the world and each other because he cares about world and us, and he wants us to be like Him. The Bible says we were ‘made in his image’, in other words we were created to be like him by having a love for him which resembles his love for us. In light of this, all of creation speaks of God’s desire for us to be in relationship with him.
What went wrong?
Problems started to occur when we first wanted to not be like God. The Bible tells a story of Adam and Eve eating fruit from a certain tree that God had forbidden them to eat. The result of that bad choice of lunch was that people had move away from the presence of God. The relationship had been broken. Adam and Eve ate the fruit believing it had spiritual power that would give them all the wisdom that God has. With wisdom equal to God, they reasoned, they wouldn’t be in need of him anymore. That bite marked the first time people desired to live without being in relationship with God. The power released by eating the fruit was the terrible ramification of turning away from God and his ways that we continue to experience today.
Turning our back on God and his ways is what we call sin. The fundamental problem with sin is, it a relationship destroyer. Sin tears us away from God. It causes us to not be like him and it causes us to look for fulfilment in life in all the wrong places.
Ever since we were separated from God we’ve searched for ways to acquire fulfilment – money, sex, respect, power, admiration. All these things are good, they were made by God after all, but they don’t satisfy the deep longing that we have in the aftermath of leaving God. The good things that God has made are no substitute for the maker himself.
What Jesus did for us
All of history, after that first bite, right up to our current day, comprises of a saving plan that God designed to bring us back to him, to restore the world, and to help us to again be like him. God’s love for us has never been turned off. He has, and always will, love us, everyone of us, even though we turn our backs to him and his ways.
God’s love for us is unparalleled. God’s love is unstoppable. God’s love is an unrestrainable force of such magnitude that he even died for us.
To restore our relationship, God sent his son, Jesus. Jesus, though he is God, laid down his divine powers and was came to earth as a man. He lived life on earth and obeyed his father in every way. He lived a perfect life; he did what we were created to do. Jesus then gave to us everything he had – his whole life. Jesus made himself a sacrifice and was crucified. Because Jesus is the only perfect person ever to have lived, he is the only one qualified to be a sacrifice and take onto himself the punishment we deserve.
Crucifixion was designed by the Romans to maximise pain, over time, before death. Historical accounts describe how before crucifixion people were tortured, ‘sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews and bowels were opened to exposure’. Jesus was then forced to drag a wooden cross to the place where he would be executed. Nails were hammered through his wrists and feet and he was left to hang for hours before dying. But the pain was not the worst part.
The Bible says that in the moments before Jesus died, his heavenly father left him. When Jesus took upon himself the sin of the world, he could no longer be in relationship with his perfect Father, because sin and perfection can’t mix – we saw that with Adam and Eve. Jesus’ relationship with his Father was broken, so that ours may be restored.
At the crucifixion Jesus died in place of us; he exchanged our sin for his glory. Jesus died in our place to declare us forgiven and no longer subject to the punishment we deserve. This was not just for the sins we have already committed, but for every sin we will ever commit. Jesus died once and for all. Now, when God looks at you and I he doesn’t see our sin, instead, he sees the glory of Jesus in us. He sees an image of himself. He sees that once again we are like him.
Three days after dying Jesus rises for the dead.
The resurrection of Christ justifies what Jesus said and did at the cross. At the resurrection the Father publically declares that Jesus is his Son and all that he has said and done is true and good. When Jesus rose from the dead he showed that death is no match for the God of eternal life; a life that Jesus shares with everyone who chooses to come back into a relationship with him.
How we can we respond
This is the big amazing bible story. God has made a way for us to have something wonderfully different to what we deserve – something so amazing that it will take eternity to appreciate it. The question for us now is, how will you respond to what God has done?
The death and resurrection of Christ makes a way us to be able to have a restored relationship with God, but there is a response we must make to apprehend that relationship – and that is to have faith in him. God wants us to believe him when he says, ‘I loved you so much that I came to you, died for you, so that you can know to me again’. Believe him when he says ‘I have come so that you may have life, not just existence, but life to the full’. God will never force his love on his; we apprehend eternal life in relationship with God through faith in him. You don’t have to do anything else. Being a good person will please God, sure, but it won’t make him love you any more than he already does.
Just believe. This truth, when believed, lived and told, transforms lives.
God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! (John 3:16-17 CEV)