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Why Did Jesus Die?

by Pastor Tom Anderson

Sin is the innate condition of the human race. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--everyone--to his own way..." (Isaiah 53:6) Many people are not accustomed to think of themselves as sinners. We blithely dismiss the issue with a sweeping excuse, "Nobody is perfect" but then in the next breath we declare "people are basically good." Which is it? It's clear that many people are deeply confused about who they are. The truth is that we have a sin problem. We can't fix it with excuses, denial, or by trying to balance it off with charitable donations.

What is sin? The dominant Biblical image for sin is debt. Jesus taught us to pray, "forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matthew 6:12) During the 2008 financial crisis, many people found themselves so deeply in debt that there was an explosion of foreclosures. When large numbers of people can no longer pay their debts, it threatens the entire economy as well as a humanitarian disaster. Debts can't be magically eliminated. Someone has to step in and take the loss. Losses can be shifted but they can never be eliminated. It's an iron law of economics. In the 2008 crisis we shifted individual losses to the entire population.

Humanity put itself in debt to God from the beginning when Adam and Eve put aside God's Word to run their own lives. They became their own gods. They decided for themselves what was right and wrong. We have all inherited this prideful and selfish trait. We have broken our relationship with our Creator--the relationship he intended for us to live in. Our years of transgressions--greed, violence and lust--have built a relationship debt we could never repay. It's not a financial crisis, but it is a debt crisis. If communion with God is ever going to be re-established, someone is going to have to take the loss. But not even the Federal Reserve can handle this one! No human being has the resources to take this loss!

Only God can. That is what the Cross of Jesus Christ is about. In his torturous death, Jesus takes the loss for human sinfulness. "And you, who were dead in your trespasses ..., God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross." (Colossians 2:13-14) Jesus did what none of us could do and all of us needed to do. He took our loss. He paid our debt. He restored our good standing with God! Do you believe this?

Believing in our new freedom is our task. If we believe Jesus takes away our sins, then let us give thanks and praise! If we believe we are no longer in debt to God, then let us live in humble obedience towards Him. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:13-14). God doesn't ask us to agree with the Cross, he invites us to faith in the Cross. Faith makes all the difference because faith changes us and leads us into new life. Happy Easter!


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