To answer this question, we must go back to the beginning. As we do so, we must ask ourselves why did Jesus have to die at all? Yes, it all started in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had free will as indicated by instructions from God for them not to eat of the forbidden tree. They chose to ignore God and did eat. This caused them to realize the consequences of their free will.

Genesis 3:15 is the first promise of the Messiah. That promise also includes the necessary work that the Messiah would do on earth.

Another example of free will was the means of worship by Cain and Abel. Cain had become an accomplished farmer and believed that the fruit of his work would be acceptable to God as a sacrifice. In other words, what Cain did, according to him, should have been acceptable to God. Abel tended animals for a living. As part of his worship, he offered an animal to be slain before God. At first look, it seemed like the two men were simply offering the results of their personal work. However, Abel followed the example of God who slew animals immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve. Blood was shed so that they might have covering of their nakedness. Their nakedness was a result of their sin and the covering was a result of shed blood. Abel followed the same pattern and purpose of God.

The important results of sin by Adam and Eve and, then all of the human race, is the broken relationship with God. No longer did God walk with Adam in the garden. Adam and Eve were on their own in the world to make a life for themselves when before God gave them a purpose to tend the garden. The healing of the relationship between Adam and Eve and God was shed blood.

This alienation from God by sin intensified throughout the history of the Old Testament. The conduct of mankind and attitude of mankind was to forget God. They no longer needed him. They could do for themselves. The example of this is the Tower of Babel by which people wanted to build their own means to get into heaven. They wanted their own efforts to make a way to be in heaven. Of course, that did not work because when God dumbfounded them with a variety of languages, they could no longer relate to each other and had to abandon their efforts.

Story after story in the Old Testament indicates this alienation from God except by a few faithful persons like Job. In the process of time, God selected a man named Abraham to be the father of the present-day nation of Israel. Throughout their young history, the Israelites worshiped God and then abandoned him and worshiped other false gods. They suffered the consequence by coming under the domination of other nations. Routinely they called out to God for help and he answered them. For many, many years these people vacillated in their devotion to God.

Through Moses God provided the 10 Commandments and the laws in the early part of the Old Testament. But what was the purpose of the commandments and the laws? In the Law they were instructed to make animal sacrifices. They had priests whose duty it was to slay these animals and spill their blood. Most people probably believe that the animal sacrifice was a means for them to have a healed relationship with God. This was not necessarily so because only one person could go into the Holy of Holies. This left the rest of the nation outside. The slaying of animals was a means, even though the worshiper did not know, to look forward to Jesus on the cross. Jesus died on the cross, that veil was rent that separated the people from the Holy of Holies.

The problem with animal sacrifice was that the animals themselves had no free will and could not choose to sin are not sin. There was no perfect representation to God for the forgiveness of sins. Temporarily if the law was followed as close as possible with the sacrifices, the Israelites were God’s chosen people.

To address the question of the cross, look to see what the cross represented. It was a means by which criminals were punished to the point of death. On the cross, all could see the criminal bearing the consequences of his evil behavior.

There were other ways for these people to lose their lives, but it had no significance of the victim and the agony of the victim. On the cross Jesus became the perfect sacrifice for our sin. As an individual, he never committed a sin and was never alienated from God until he was on the cross. He cried out, “Abba, Abba, why have you forsaken me?” The most significant translation is that Abba means daddy. So, the son of God crying out to his daddy pointed to all those around and those who would read the biblical record of his death at that point on the cross is the relationship with God was broken.

He became the perfect sacrifice dying the way that all criminals died. This was the way they would die as Gentiles. There were other ways they could have died but that would have been restricted to the method done by the Jews. The cross was the common blend of a perfect victimization and murder in behalf of both Jew and Gentile.

This was God’s way for himself to provide the ultimate means of healing mankind’s relationship with him. He gave his only son to shed blood so that anyone who would believe on him would have eternal life. Mankind could not provide any means to heal that relationship because there was nothing perfect about the way they would do it nor was there an innocence in the death of the victim nor was there a choice done by the victim to die for others. In the Bible, this is called Christ’s propitiation.

As we look to Easter, we must recognize that Jesus died on the cross. And that cross was very significant for each of us. Only Jesus could die and shed his blood for us. At one point, Jesus told his disciples that he had the power to lay down his life and the power to take it back up. On the cross, he gave up the ghost. What the literal translation means is that he dismissed his spirit in the same way a teacher would dismiss her students.

Easter is a celebration and a reflection of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as the only means by which our relationship with God can be healed. God did this in our behalf. Now it is our responsibility to accept what God did and in faith confess our sins to believe in Jesus as our Savior. -Age�d���s

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