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serving jesus christ the king

Jesus did not die to show us he loved us

I was reading ‘The Gospel Truth’ column to the right of mine in last week’s Post about the significance of the events of Easter week. What Father McKevitt said was right, but he left out the best bit.

The crucifixion does show us the wickedness of man and the love of Christ. But it doesn’t stop there. Jesus didn’t die because a crowd of people plotted against him. Jesus didn’t die because Romans crucified him. Think about it. The one who raised the dead and calmed the storms could easily have come down off the cross. So there has to be another reason.

And to say he did it out of love for the Father, while true, doesn’t sufficiently explain it. Why did it matter so much for the Father that his Son die? What was happening on the cross if it wasn’t that some bad people killed a good man?

That’s the crux of the matter.

Jesus’ main purpose was not primarily to show us that he loved us, nor to be the victim of a tragic plot. In 1 John 4:10 we read:

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Here we are told precisely how it is that the cross displays God’s love. Jesus didn’t come just to love people; He came to save people.

Jesus stayed on the cross because he was paying (atoning) for the sins of his people. The cross was not a triumph of evil. It was the payment for the punishment that the sins of his people required. On the cross the Father poured out his wrath on the Son, so that the Son could hold out the offer of a wrath-free acceptance from his Father to all who would trust the Son.

The simple fact is – we are all rebels, and someone has to pay. On the cross Jesus offers to pay for your rebellion too. That’s what the cross was about. A Son who loved us enough to stand in our place. And a Father who loved us enough to pour out his wrath on his dear Son, instead of on us.

That’s what I love about the cross. That’s why this is the best bit. Jesus pays for my sin so that I don’t have to. And because of that I get to enjoy the Father’s love. The crucifixion is not some dark tragedy, it is a glorious moment to be celebrated and rejoiced in. Until a person can do that then they haven’t grasped what really happened.

To grasp it we need to do much more than participate in remembering the activities of Easter. We need to go to the Cross and ask Jesus to pay for us too, and to turn us from being rebels into loving, loyal subjects.