I’m a Christian because Jesus died and rose again to give me forgiveness. Crosses are very popular symbols. Everywhere I look I seem to see them. On buildings, signs, ear rings, necklaces, t-shirts. You name it. When I see one I can’t help thinking that the cross that Jesus knew wasn’t made out of 24 carat gold and encrusted with diamonds. The cross He knew wasn’t worn with pride around his neck. The cross that Jesus wore was carried on his back and nailed to His hands and feet. It wasn’t lovely, it was nasty.
The cross was a sign of shame and horror. It symbolized the worst and most terrifying way to kill – to be done when you wanted to make an example out of someone. In Philippians chapter 2, Paul mentions that not only did Jesus die, he was subject even to death on a cross. It was so bad, that not only did He die, he died THAT way. If we ended there, we would have a depressing story about how a good guy was blamed for something he didn’t do, and got the electric chair for his trouble. No doubt this has happened too many times in history. Praise God this is not where the story ends. Not with despair, but triumph!
Not only did Jesus die, paying the penalty for the sins of all who would believe (that includes mine and yours) He rose again, and ascended to heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father. Why did He do this? He loves you. Romans 5:8 tells us: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The next question that pops into my mind is, “Why did He have to die at all?” The short answer is, He didn’t! He could have left us down here to die instead. It’s what we’ve earned after all: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23. I’ve put in my 40 hours of work, and I’ve earned my pay (death). Not the best paycheck in the world. Even the few good things I’ve done in my life don’t wipe out the bad because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23. If you are standing before a judge, he’s not going to care so much if you feed the homeless every Wednesday night, but he will care that you murdered someone that one time! All the good you might have done doesn’t wipe out the bad that you did.
However, by the grace of God, I get paid what Jesus earned on the cross, not what I’ve earned in my sins. I get paid His wages instead of my own. Instead of death – LIFE! 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. God alone has immortality (1 Timothy 6:16) and He wants to share it with you as a gift, bought by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. His death earned you the forgiveness you couldn’t earn yourself, and His life gives you hope and a future better than you can imagine. Do you want the gift He’s offering?