Saturday, April 2, 2011

Got Jesus?

Someone might ask why we need Jesus.  What did Jesus do?  I’d always heard that Jesus had opened the Gates of Heaven.  That was never satisfying.  He’s Jesus.  God.  Shouldn’t He have a universal remote that could just open those doors from His throne?  Why come here?

I’d heard He came to show us how to live.  He did set a good example, that’s for sure.  But He really could have done that without the brutal torture and death at the end, and showing us how to live doesn’t do much to explain the Resurrection.

I’d also heard He came and died to show us He loved us.  Which He does, obviously, but if that was the primary reason a Hallmark card might have taken less time and effort and blood.  Usually getting oneself crucified does not serve as a healthy Valentine’s Day gift.

God is all powerful and created the Universe.  God is love.  He created everything and everyone to love.  And we fail, over and over and over and over again, as evidenced in the Old Testament repeatedly.  We do not deserve to spend eternity with the all holy and all pure and all loving God in our present state.  We’re not worthy.  I’m not saying that because I have some sort of self confidence crisis going on – it is just an accurate assessment of the sludge at the bottom of a stagnant lake we must look like compared to God’s complete and total moral perfection.

It is a good thing He is love too, because He doesn’t need us.  God’s glory and power is not somehow decreased if I choose to hate Him or ignore Him.  He does not need my prayers.  He does not need our churches.  He does not need this planet.  He does not need the Universe.  He doesn’t need any of it, but we still have it because He loves us.

His perfect love and mercy go along with His perfect justice, which is why He doesn’t just wave His hand and invite us pond scum into Heaven with Him in our present state.  Actions have consequences and perfect justice demands punishment for sin.  We deserve to die and be separated from God when we sin.  That’s what happened to Adam and Eve, and why they got booted from the garden.

God was always working though to satisfy His perfect mercy and perfect justice at the same time.  In the Old Testament we see animal sacrifices as a way to cover sin.  And it was just a shadow of what was to come, just like everything else in the Old Testament.  Eventually, God sent His own Son to take our place and die for our sins.

God’s perfect justice is satisfied with a perfect sacrifice. Then He rises from the dead, defeating death and sin totally, in our form, showing we will do the same thing when it is time.  Physical death has no power over us anymore.  It is just a pit stop on the journey to Heaven, to be with God, who has opened the doors, shown us how to live, and demonstrated His perfect love for us.

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  

Of course we must believe in Jesus.  God’s sacrifices, even in the Old Testament, were not faithless expressions of compliance.  Our obedience to God’s commands, starting with the one to believe in His Son, is completely necessary, just as obedience was necessary in the Old Testament.  Pagans offering their sacrifices on God’s altar did not automatically gain entrance.  Jesus died so that anyone could be saved, but not all will.

If you have not read the Bible, I recommend it.  Read it like your life depended on it, because it kinda does (not the words in it, but the message).  It isn’t any longer than Lord of the Rings.  Get another book to help show how all the books in the Bible fit together.  You can find basic ones that don’t get into the denominational issues a specific church’s book might.  Read about how sin destroys the world and how Jesus saves it.  This isn’t some ancient religion – this is truth yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

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