Christ died for our sins. The action of his death on the cross opened the gates of heaven for us. He saved us from our sins by his death on the cross. That is why he is called our Savior. Some would say our “personal Savior.” Heaven is now open for us as a result of his death on the cross.
Over the years, I’ve had some difficulty fully grasping the meaning of these statements. How is it that so much has been made of Christ’s crucifixion. How is it that his death on the cross was such a saving action. Why did God choose this particular act to save mankind from his sins. How and why? How and why? Today, I’m thinking of some possible answers.
God created us out of love. The old Baltimore Catechism answered the question “Why did God make us?” by saying “God made us to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him, and to be happy with Him in heaven.” Oh, the mind of God! He wanted us to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him, and be happy with Him in heaven. But at the same time, He gave us free will. Can you imagine God talking to Himself, saying “If I make this creature man and make Myself known to him, and he freely chooses to love and serve Me, then I would have made a creature that would be eternally happy with Me in heaven, and what love there would be between us.” So what went wrong?
Man freely chose to sin instead. He chose to listen to the Evil One and, even though he knew God, He did not choose to love Him or serve Him. He chose to sin. So then it was not possible for man to be happy with God in heaven unless he was somehow redeemed, somehow given a second chance. Centuries of time passed. God knew what He would do. He sent many prophets to let man know what He would do. And as a result, mankind waited for their savior, the Son of God, to appear. God even told them that His Son, this Savior, would suffer and die. This would be the saving action. But how and why?
His son would become one of us … a man. He would be a man with all human frailties. He would laugh. He would cry. He would experience joy. He would experience heartache. He would know pain. He would know fear. He would bleed. He would die. And all of this was seen starting in the Garden of Gethsemane. I can imagine Him kneeling there by the rock shaking from head to toe, fearing what was to follow over the next day or two. He prayed that His Father would take away this challenge so that he wouldn’t have to suffer and die. But He also prayed that his Father’s will would be done. And so it happened … a horrible, mind-boggling death. The saving action.
Before it happened, though, Christ founded His Church as the vehicle by which his saving power would be realized. Then He rose from the dead and proved that He was God. And now, His creature man has come to know Him again. And His creature man can now choose all over again to love Him, to serve Him, and to be happy with Him in heaven. Oh, yes, the mind of God! Oh, yes, the genius of God. Not all of us will make it. We still must choose that narrow gate, for the Evil One is still with us. But, oh, what happiness awaits those who do make this choice!
My prayer for today: Lord, be at my side as I trudge through the mud of this life. Whisper in my ear to keep me on the straight and narrow. Pick me up when I fall, and guide me to the eternal home you have prepared for me from the beginning of time. Amen.