Saturday, July 9, 2011

SOME THOUGHTS ON THE CROSS

When I was a kid I loved to play baseball. We didn’t need an official team, we played whenever we could get 4 or 5 guys together. Since there was very little traffic on our street, we’d play there yelling “Car!” when necessary.
One day I was at bat and I hit that hardball on a line drive to left field. But the ball kept going and going. It went through our neighbors picture window at the front of their house and came to rest after bouncing off of and breaking their TV set.

I did not have the wherewithal to make it right with them. I had no money, no skills, nothing. My dad stepped in and made it right with them for me. He took the responsibility for my actions and bought them a new picture window and TV. This would have been impossible for me.

In the same way Jesus took the responsibility of the sins of the whole world. Some might say well and good, after all, He made us, he had to do it. But like in the story with my dad, my dad could have said, “Steve, you blew it. I’m going to teach you a lesson here. You make it right with the neighbors and buy them a TV and a new window.” In an earlier era, I could have been sold into slavery to pay off the debt. My dad was not obligated to solve my debt for me, and it was not his fault. Neither was it Jesus’. It was for love that he became responsible for our actions and paid our debt.

Our debt was to justice. We have a loving God who made a moral universe. The day will come when judgment will happen to all.

4 comments:

mathetes said...

Hi, Steve!
May I ask a couple of questions here:
First, hom did Jesus pay for our debts?
Second, in your example your dad restored the things that were actually broken - the window and the TV. So what was broken by our sins?
And why was his death accepted as compensation for our sins?

Sergei (Kamchatka/Novosib)

Steven Ganz said...

Excellent questions Sergei! The first question could be either how did Jesus pay or to whom was the debt paid? How was the debt paid? By the shedding of his blood in death. To whom? Not the devil, although he had the power of death. my feeling is the debt was paid to justice, and thereby to God himself. It all goes back to the word that God spoke to Adam and Eve: "In the day that you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will die." They didn't die that day, but an animal did whose skin was used to clothe Adam and Eve, although they were already covered by the leaves they sewed together. Additionally, the Lord has said that the soul that sins shall die. Death is the just and natural result of sin, it is what we owe because of our sin. Death is the only way sin can be stopped. So Jesus died for us in the same way that that animal died for Adam and Eve. It was the mercy of God to cover sin with an innocent life. This had the effect of giving Adam and Eve the opportunity to rebuild the relationship they had with God that sin broke. Sin broke
1. their relationship with God they had in the garden
2. the way to the tree of life i.e. eternal life in the garden
3. the life they had in the garden was replaced by ground that had been cursed so they would have a life of meaningless toil
4. the plan God had for them of unrestricted fellowship with God.

This is what was broken and which is restored through Jesus' death for us. But in this world his life covers us with God's mercy and grace, but has not yet defeated death for all who believe. This will happen when Jesus returns.

Why was Jesus' death accepted as compensation? Because all humanity was in him, since Jesus himself was our creator, and, since we were all in him, when Jesus died, we all died with him. This is the death that clothes us with his love and righteousness. May we be found in him on that day of judgment that we will then have his resurrected life.

I hope that these words make some sense. Please feel free to comment and question further if this answer was not satisfactory.

Anonymous said...

OK, but what makes me nervous a bit is that Justice that requires punishment but does not care much about who is really punished and what for...
If we go back to Adam and Eve I would ask how did those skin clothes cover/help to cover their sin? Were leaves not enough to cover them? Why did God use the sheep skin and no sheep wool for example? Doesn't it appear that it is God who caused the first death?
Doesn't i appear that Jesus had to die just because that poor sheep in the past died?

Sergei (Kamchatka/Novosib)

Steven Ganz said...

It seems to me that the clothes made from the skin of an innocent animal were intended not so much to simply clothe their nakedness, the leaves did that, but to teach Adam and Eve, and thereby all mankind, that sin results in death. Additionally, it also taught that God himself would take responsibility for their sin. This is why he killed the animal himself instead of having Adam and Eve do it for themselves. This was pointing to Jesus who took responsibility for all the sins of mankind upon the cross. God knew this and had planned before creation that Jesus would die for our sins. So the animal dies because in the future Jesus would die for us, not the other way around.

Justice, based on God's holiness, demands that ALL sin and ANY sin must produce death. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, it changed their nature form one of innocence and dependence upon God to that of a self reliant arrogance and mistrust of God. All with that nature must die. This is justice. It is not retribution for each and every sin.