WHY DID JESUS DIE?
: Good Friday
Today I’m beginning with a simple question; Why did Jesus die?
What are some of the thoughts that come to your mind when you hear that question; Why did Jesus die?
Did Jesus die because we have an angry God and he was the sacrifice that was needed to appease God’s anger? Is God’s wrath the problem?
Or would you put it more like this; Jesus died to save us from our sin. What does it mean that Jesus saves us from our sin?
These questions aren’t meant to make you feel as though you’ve got to get the right answer or otherwise you’re wrong. I’m just asking questions to get us thinking about what Jesus did for us on the cross.
We take a whole day off work; or we used to, to stop what we’re doing to remember this most important event in our history; Jesus crucifixion. Why did Jesus die?
You’ll be pleased to know that Jesus didn’t die to save us from an angry God. His Dad isn’t angry. Actually his Dad is the personification of love; it’s his very nature, he can do no other. Whatever he does is love. That reminds me of 1 John 4:16 ‘God is love’.
Isn’t that Good News, “God is Love” and then John continues; “and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 Jn 4:16) What a wonderful relationship John is seeking to describe. But wait there’s more; “Such love has no fear.” (1 Jn 4:18) Did you hear that, ‘no fear’. “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” (1 Jn 4:18)
The perfect love mentioned is God, who’s very nature is love. It’s not just a character quality with him, it is who he is; love incarnate.
John reminded his readers of this earlier in his letter; “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.” (1 Jn 3:16) Wow did you notice that John gave part of the answer to our question; Why did Jesus die? Jesus gave up is life; in other words died, so that we might know what real love is, God’s love, his very person.
So at the heart of the cross is love, God’s love, in Jesus, reaching out to who?
I think God’s love is reaching out to those who don’t believe it, that they are loved by him. God’s love is reaching out to those who don’t feel loved, to those who feel they have to prove themselves. God’s love is reaching out to those who think along these lines; ‘if I don’t act nice people won’t like me, let alone love me.’ Or thinking like this; ‘You only respect those who earn your respect.’
Jesus is reaching out to those who live in fear, by fear, through fear. To those who think they have to prove themselves. To those who seek to find their answer to fear by taking control themselves.
Remember earlier I said; Jesus died to save us from our sin. Sin is what I’ve been striving to describe to you. Sin isn’t the bad things we do as much as the fact that we are born into this world not knowing we are loved. We are born into a world of fear, a world of so many insecurities.
Part of the fear is we have sought to answer our fears by taking control of our lives. I shape my identity through what I do and that other people speak well of me. And the ones who don’t, don’t count. I reject them, but that leaves me with a nagging fear; who’s rejecting me.
Have you ever noticed what a power the fear of rejection is; the need to be accepted, valued, wanted?
My greatest sin is when I trust in my successes to define me, to make me feel safe. My greatest sin is found in the things I feel make me a good person, because they’re what I trust in. Here is my answer to this all-pervading fear.
Why are these my greatest sin? Because they become the very things that stop me from knowing God’s love for me. I’d love to have a dollar for every time someone has said a phrase like this; ‘God would like me, I’m a good bloke. I won’t go to hell, I’m a good person’. And you know what; I’d say without exception everyone who ever said this to me was a good person. They were fun to be with. They were loyal, thoughtful, people of character.
And without exception they all doubted that God could be trusted. Actually most of them doubt God’s very existence. They didn’t sense that he loved them, that he was over the moon about them, that he’d go to hell and back to love them. They would say to me; ‘If God was real, why is the world in such a mess, why is there so much suffering and pain. God can’t be real and if he is we’re not interested.’
Here is why Jesus died on the cross; he wants to love you. He want’s your life, actually he wants you, to be a living expression of love, just as his life is. Remember love isn’t simply a character quality of God, it’s his very nature, it’s who he is. Whatever he does is love, he can act no other way, it is who he is.
Would you say that of your life?
That’s Jesus goal, hope, dream. That as you discover and grow in his love, he is allowed to re-create you as a person who is shaped by his love, that your identity is wrapped up in his love, that fear is banished, replaced by this wonderful all-pervading sense of being loved. Jesus’ goal, his hope, his dream for you is that your life is a living expression of the love in your life, the love he has for you. The love he has for you flowing into every area, into every aspect because now, in Jesus, it’s become who you are; wow!
Do you notice that has nothing to do with you being better than anyone else. It has nothing to do with you proving your worth through what you do; because that ends up putting people down. They feel the need to prove themselves and soon we’re competing; who’s top dog.
Why did Jesus die?
Jesus was born, lived and died to create trust in his Father, to create love in us, a love which goes beyond a character quality to being the very essence of who we are so that when we act, it’s an act of love, because like Jesus, we are living true to who we are.
That’s why Jesus didn’t jump in and stop Adam and Eve from talking with the devil, God’s goal, hope, dream is that we love as we are loved. That we live from the core of who we are; loved. Jesus isn’t interested in robots always do what they are programmed to do. Jesus is after a genuine relationship of love.
Can you trust this guy with your life; with your sexual choices, with your financial choices, or will he screw you? Is he just in it for what he can get out of it?
What does Jesus; his life, death and resurrection say to you?
Today we are reminded that Jesus poured out his life for these people only to be abandoned, betrayed, beaten, ridiculed, laughed at, nailed to a cross to prove to everyone what a joke he was. Jesus was deliberately nailed to a cross to prove to everyone that he was cursed by God.
They mocked Jesus; ‘come off the cross and we’ll believe you. Save yourself, if you can’.
But Jesus doesn’t come off the cross, that would have just cemented us in fear. Jesus doesn’t save himself, but he goes to hell and back, so we don’t have to, so we don’t have to live unloved, fearful, forever proving ourselves, forever fearful of what others might do, or not do. What a hellish way to exist.
No Jesus chooses to die on the cross so that he might create, birth in us his love, his very nature, that we too might live in that wonderful freedom and joy of being true to who we are no matter the circumstance. Life has now become a wonderful opportunity to give living expression to the love we now are, the love we now have, for that is what Jesus has created us to be. In Jesus you are Father’s children, chosen and marked by his love, the delight of his life. In Jesus, that’s who you are, so you can now grow in living true to who you are.
Jesus invites you to invite him in to love you; that’s what forgiveness is, Jesus reaching out and loving you personally. Jesus doesn’t force himself on us; that’s not love, but he has gone to hell and back because he loves us, more than his own life and now invites you to invite him in, to recreate you that your life becomes and matures as a living reflection of the loved person you are in him.
Today Jesus invites you to invite him in, into every area of your life, that he might love you.
The invitation is yours. I pray you make some time to talk with him about it today.
Pastor Tim Koch.