The Greatest Love Story Ever Told
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
Christianity is unique, in the sense that the crux of it is not a way of life, but revolves around a single event in human history – Jesus coming down from heaven to die on the cross, and in doing so, wiping clean the sins of those who accept his gift.
You may ask, what is sin? And what is this gift? And who is this God? And why in the world would this God die for us? Did I even ask him to?
Let me start from the beginning.
Let me start from the beginning.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” –Genesis 1:1
God is the creator of all things. Before anything existed, he was there. He is the sovereign Lord of the whole universe and all things bow to his authority. He is everywhere at the same time, all- powerful and all-knowing. The bible then proceeds to tell us that he created man. He created Adam, and from Adam’s rib, created Eve. God created man to have a personal relationship with him just as a father is to a son. He also created man to rule and reign with him. He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and permitted them to do anything, save eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
Then, sin happened. The devil, in the form of a serpent, deceived Eve to eat of the fruit, telling her that she could be like God. Eve then gave the fruit to Adam. That was the first sin. From that time on, the sons of man have always been in rebellion against God. In that sense, that is what sin is, to rebel against God’s ways and follow our own.
Because they were now a sinful people, they could no longer come close to the perfect God, just as there is no darkness in the light. God cast them out of Eden. As people grew numerous and spread throughout the world, they sins grew more and more wicked.
God looked upon a broken world, fallen from what they were created to be, and loved them. They were in the clutches of the enemy and he would fight from their freedom. He would pay the price for their souls. The important thing to note is that because God knows all things, past and present, he knew even before he created them, they would fall away in sin. He knew right from the start that as a result, he would pay for their sins in the most painful way imaginable, and yet somehow, he considered these sinful people worth creating.
So into a hostile world, God himself came down, not just in the likeness of a man, but being in the very nature man, walked among the very people he loved so dearly. Jesus was tempted by everything we face, yet did not succumb to sin. Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons and did many miracles. Jesus amazed people with the authority of his teaching and had a unique ability to grasp the human condition and speak right into people’s hearts. How could he not? This was the creator after all. This was God.
But this was not why he came. After 33 half years of walking this earth, the world’s greatest love story wrote its most climatic scene. Jesus accomplished the very mission that which he came to earth for and fulfilled the prophesies of old that spoke of a savior. That day on the hills of Calvary, all because of love for a broken world and a broken people, Jesus endured an excruciating death on the cross. And in doing so, Jesus became the atonement for all sins. Jesus was our willing scapegoat, the one who suffered the penalties of our sins, and purchased us from damnation.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died” -2 Corinthians 5:14
Because he died for us, his death was reckoned onto us as the death of our sinful nature and bought us a right standing with God.
“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” –Matthew 28:5-7
On the first Easter Sunday, three days after he died on the cross, Jesus rose from the dead. Because he died, we died, and because he now lives, we live a new life as well, free from the bondage of sin.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” -2 Corinthians 5:17
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” –Ephesians 2:8
Therefore this is the gift and the promise of God, that to him who puts his faith in Jesus, Jesus will make his home in our hearts and live his glory through our lives. After he rose from the grave, he appeared to his disciples numerous times and entrusted them the mission to build his church and to proclaim his gift and the good news of salvation throughout the world.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” –Matthew 28:18-20
Thus this is the call, purpose and mission of God for us in our life. That just as we have been saved, we want to proclaim this same message throughout the world.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” –John 12:24
Jesus spoke of himself as the kernel of wheat that dies to itself and produces an abundant harvest that is borne out in the church we see today.
Yet he was also challenging us to be that same kernel of wheat choosing to die to itself. And to the one whose heart beats for the purposes of God, Jesus had this promise:
“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
Let us find our life and live it to the full.