When God created this world and its inhabitants, it was brimming with life. God did not create death, but He warned Adam that when he would eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, death would follow (Genesis 2:17). This is exactly what happened when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God: death entered their world. Not only did it enter their world, it affected all of mankind (Romans 5:12). Every human being is born a sinner and subject to death. Death is the consequence of sin: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Consequence of sin
Death is the consequence of disobedience to God, the One who has given us life. Trying to make up for sin by good deeds will never work, because the consequence of sin is death. Human beings cannot overcome death by their own power.
God is just
God is just in all his ways and this means that he gives just penalty when people sin (Deuteronomy 32:4). But God is also gracious and eager to forgive sin (Psalm 103:3,8). In the Old Testament, people who sinned could bring in an animal that got killed instead of them (Leviticus 4:22-31). It was God’s provision for people who are not able to lead perfect lives. But these animal sacrifices pointed to the perfect sacrifice that Jesus Christ brought once and for all.
The perfect lamb
If Jesus would not have come, these sacrifices would have been pointless. No animal can take human guilt away – it only made sense because the Messiah had been promised (Hebrews 10:4). The Messiah would be the perfect Lamb who would suffer and die so that people could be saved from their sins (Hebrews 10:10-12). Jesus was without sin and therefore he was qualified to take the sin of the world.
Jesus paid with His life
God sent his Son into this world so that Jesus could take all of the sins of mankind and pay for them (1 John 2:1-2). Since death is the wages for sin, Jesus had to pay with his life. Jesus knew beforehand that this was what he had to do (i.e. Matthew 16:21). He dreaded the suffering and death that lay in store for him so much, that he even prayed to God to take them away from him. But he submitted to the will of his Father, and this will was that Jesus would pay for the sins of the world (Matthew 26:39). There is no other way for mankind to be reconciled with God! (1 Timothy 2:5-6; Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Colossians 1:21-22)
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