If God Is Love, Why Did Jesus Have To Die?
In my last post, I shared how, when my daughter, Marissa, was a toddler, we bought her a goldfish. She quickly became frustrated by her inability to have a meaningful relationship with her new pet. In an attempt to connect with and love her fish, Marissa began petting her fish. Well, she TRIED to pet her fish. The fish wasn’t very receptive to her display of love. In fact, the fish feared Marissa, no matter what she did.
That’s the picture I get when I read the Old Testament. God made us for a relationship with him. He created us in love and for love. Throughout the Old Testament, we see God reaching out to his humans; providing for them, answering their prayers and inviting them up mountains to experience his presence.
The humans were not very receptive to his displays of love. In fact, his people seemed to fear and reject God, no matter what he did.
I wondered what would happen if Marissa could somehow make herself a fish, and get into the bowl with her pet. Perhaps if she could appear to her fish in a way the fish could understand, maybe the goldfish would be more open to receiving her love?
That’s precisely what God did. He made himself a human, and he got into the bowl with his humans. He came to live where we live so that he could love us, and so we might receive his love and someday go with him to live where he lives.
What if Marissa became a fish and got into the goldfish bowl to love her fish, but her fish didn’t snuggle up and return her affection? What if her fish tried to kill her? It seems ridiculous. Why would her fish respond to such an extravagant act of love like that? Certainly, her fish would reciprocate love with love. Don’t you think the fish would invite her owner into the bowl and welcome Marissa with open arms, err, fins? Maybe not. Perhaps her fish would kill her.
That’s what happened to Jesus. He came down and got in our fishbowl; he showed love to his people, love that could be understood. Wouldn’t his people invite him in and welcome Jesus with open arms? No. Not so much. Instead, his humans killed him.
It started with a conspiracy amongst the religious leaders. The Pharisees, who fastidiously held to all of God’s laws, laws like, “Thou shalt not murder,” (Exodus 20:13), decided to murder God. It started with a small group of the religious elite, and ended with a huge mass of ordinary people shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23:21).
It was the most extraordinary thing: The people Jesus came to love, stared at him with hate in their eyes. The people Jesus came to live for, demanded that he die. And he did. The Roman government granted their request and completed the plan of the Pharisees. God’s humans killed him.
Here’s the twist: That was part of God’s plan too. In Matthew 1, an angel told Joseph that the baby his fiancée was having was the son of God. Then the angel said, “he will save his people from their sins.” It was God’s plan all along: To send Jesus so that people could know God and experience his love in a way they could understand. And for Jesus to die. Why?
Because only through Jesus’ sacrifice could are we saved from our sins. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
It was God\’s plan all along: To send Jesus so that people could know God and experience his love in a way they could understand.
God knew, if he sent his Son, we’d kill him. It was part of God’s plan because God created us in love and for love. We exist to be in a relationship with God, but we’ve walked away from God, and God had to create a way to bring us back to him. Jesus said, “I am the way” (John 14:6).
God created a bridge to span the gap between us. Jesus is that bridge.
God needed to do something about our sin because of our wrongdoing, the sin that stains us and separates us from an entirely real God. Jesus became sin for us to eliminate our sins on the cross (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). It was all part of God’s plan to save and love us.
God created us in love, and for love, and for a place called Heaven, where we can live in love with Him forever. In Heaven, God will be Emmanuel, God with us, forever.
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