The idea of forgiveness is at the heart of Christianity and is an important part of what Jesus won for us when he was crucified. However, it wasn’t the only work of the cross.
During Lent, in preparation for Easter, we will be considering some of the other things that are ours because of what our Redeemer did for us when he died in our place.
This key idea is throughout the history of the Jews; for example, we see it in the sacrificial system, in the Passover and in the story of Abraham and Isaac. A sheep that was caught in a bush, was sacrificed in Isaac’s place.
The priests would symbolically lay the sins of the people on the animal, often a lamb, and it would be sacrificed in their place. The lamb was without blemish, spotless and pure.
The Passover lamb was killed and its blood was smeared on the doorposts of the Hebrew slaves and so the Angel of the Lord passed over their houses, sparing them.
There is so much truth to be found in these stories. The Father was preparing the Jewish people for the ultimate sacrifice on Calvary, where His Son would become the Passover Lamb, dying in our place, once and for all, but many Jews did not recognize him as the promised Messiah.
Separation from God
Most of us are aware that we are far from perfect. We know we have sinned, but are we really that bad? Do we deserve death?
In reality, we die because of sin. We are separated from God because of it.
And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis 3 v 22 – 24 (NIV)
The Lord God had formed Adam from the dust. He walked with him and his wife in the cool of the day. He talked with them face to face and He loved them. Because of this love, He had to banish them from the garden of Eden, because He didn’t want them to eat from the tree of life and live forever separated from their God. That is hell.
God is holy and cannot look at sin. We cannot see his face and live, because we are sinners.
But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Exodus 33 v 20 (NIV)
One way to think about it is squaring the circle. In geometry it can’t be done, but, through His Son, God has found a way. Jesus has taken our sin and replaced it with his goodness or righteousness. Jesus Christ could do this because he was without sin, spotless and pure. He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
Agnus Dei - Lamb of God
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
Isaiah 53 v 5-7 (NIV)
He has saved us from ourselves. He took our sins and iniquities on himself and he gave us his righteousness. It was a swap. He took our badness and we take his goodness.