Growing up, I really didn’t focus too much on the gospel. I thought of it as a check mark every Christian had to have checked before they went further in their faith.
Because of this, I always heard sayings I didn’t fully understand – but never dug any deeper into them. I’d hear “We placed him on the cross”, or “Our sin hung him there”, and a lot of references about blood and a lot references about how I should live in light of what “he did for me”.
I realize now, that I looked at the cross almost as if it were a mistake. That somehow Jesus was in the wrong place at the wrong time and because of those sinful people he had to hang on a cross. Even though I didn’t realize it, when I identified my sin with the sin on the cross, I also felt as if I personally caused Jesus to have to die. In a way, if my sin put him on the cross in the first place- obviously it was a mistake I should spend the rest of my life somehow making it up to God. Because his blood was spilled for me, I was left with an appreciation for Jesus, and a knee jerk reaction to do something good for him.
In all of this I completely missed how the Cross was an intentional move of God towards me.
Part of this reason is that I did what most Christians still do – I only read the New Testament. It made more sense to me. It was chock full of advice on how I should live now that I knew Christ died for me. It didn’t have tons of genealogy I didn’t understand. It talked about love, instead of judgement.
What I was completely missing is the fact that the plan of God to save us started in the beginning of the Bible. The laws and the instructions God mandated in the Old Testament were signs and indicators of our need for a true Savior. The prophets in the Old Testament helped predict and show what God had already planned. The failures of the people in the Old Testament confirmed that our works aren’t enough. The judgement of God in the Old Testament confirms that God is just – he can’t sweep sin under a rug and just forget it.
As John Piper says in his book “50 Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die” :
The most important question of the twenty-first century is: Why did Jesus come and die? To see this importance we must look beyond human causes. The ultimate answer to the question, Who killed Jesus? is: God did. It’s a staggering thought. Jesus was his Son! But the whole message of the Bible leads to this conclusion.
If we do not start with the understanding that it was God who set this plan in place for us, then we will completely miss the point of it entirely. Instead of living lives that respond to what God accomplished, we will tire out of trying to accomplish things for God.
Now that we have set the record straight that Jesus’ death was an intentional move of God, in the next post we’ll examine some Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures to show us just how intentional this move was, and why it had to happen.
In the meantime, feel free to share your view of the Gospel and how you feel God is changing it in the comments below.
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