By Roland W. Keith
“And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me." And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood’” (Luke 22:19-20).
Jesus Christ gave His life for you and me. He sacrificed Himself to establish a new covenant between God and man, and to achieve the forgiveness of sins for all men past, present, and future (Matthew 26:28). Some may ask, “But why did He need to die? What did that achieve?” To answer that question let us look back briefly into the Old Testament where we read, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life (Leviticus 17:11). What is so important about a blood sacrifice? Why would God choose such a requirement, where one life was taken in place of another, to satisfy His need for justice?
The answers to these questions begin to fall into place when we understand that God’s plan to redeem man was tailor made for us. He is not asking us to live according to some heavenly set of rules that are beyond our ability to truly comprehend. Rules that we follow in blind obedience not knowing why. God's plan is based on basic human values that are universally, innately understood. All of us appreciate the value of life (at least most of us do), particularly human life. So much so that when we hear a story about one person losing his life in an effort to save another we call him a hero. The soldier who jumps on a grenade to save his companions, or the firefighter who runs into a burning building to save a child. We say they paid the ultimate price. The price of one life for another. Under the Law of Moses sin brought death, both physical and spiritual (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12). The only way to avoid spiritual death was for someone to save the sinner, in a manner that all men, in all times could understand. Therefore, God chose the ultimate form of human love and sacrifice as the redemptive act to impress upon man the seriousness of sin and its consequences. He required a life for a life.
Fortunately, for the Israelites He allowed them to substitute the life of an animal for their own lives. However, this was an imperfect substitute, and was temporary in nature. Their sins were not truly forgiven, but held in abeyance until the perfect sacrifice could be made. A human life for a human life. Except, not just any life would be a sufficient sacrifice to truly absolve all those sins held in suspense over the centuries, as well as provide redemption for all present and future sinners. Under the old Law animal sacrifices had to be without physical defect or blemish. The ultimate sacrifice that would satisfy God’s holy justice would have to be without spiritual defect or blemish. The sinless man. The perfect human life given for all sinful men. To accomplish that God sent His Son to into the world to take human form, and to willingly give His life for us.
Jesus once said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus considers us, His creation, to be His friends and desires us to come to Him for salvation. He gave His life so that we could have a life of eternal joy in heaven with Him. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life” (Romans 5:8-10).
Jesus’ blood sacrifice saves us from the wrath of God’s justice, reconciling us to Him as if we had never sinned. That is because Jesus’ blood washes our sins away, as John noted, “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin (I John 1:7). This cleansing is not due us, but is extended to man by the grace of God as Paul informed the Ephesians, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Not only does Jesus blood provide us with an avenue to forgiveness, but if we come to Him in repentance it purifies our conscience (Hebrews 9:14). This enables us to open our minds to God’s will, preparing us for our lives as His children and servants. It relieves the burden of sin in our lives, and helps us to understand that our justification comes from Christ, which in turns helps us in the pursuit of the Christian way. Make no mistake: we must choose to follow the path everyday, but we are emboldened to do so, knowing what Christ has done for us, and all that He will continue to do through us if we are willing to give our lives for His.
Peter wrote, "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (I Peter 5:8). Satan and sin are ever present, waiting to consume our lives. However, God understands the power of temptation in our lives, and through His Holy Word He has equipped us with all the weapons we need to overcome the works of the devil, by which he attempts to draw us away. Regarding the power of sin Paul equated it to being taken captive (Romans 7:23), and Peter, who seemed to have a similar view of the captive nature of sin wrote of being freed from its grip: “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot (I Peter 18-19). Jesus gave His life for us as a ransom. He paid the ultimate price to redeem us from the bondage of sin, and to set us at liberty to pursue a life in His kingdom, free from the eternal consequences of sin.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.