The bible is sometimes referred to as “The Book of Life”. The very word “life” appears over 560 times in over 540 verses. Jesus calls himself the “the way, the truth and the life”. Life is a very important part of the biblical story, and is the motivation for the entire gospel narrative.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.” -John 3:16
Once we understand that God is life, we can understand that sin (the absence of God) is death. The bible tells us that all have sinned. Every person. We all have an amount of sin in our lives.
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” -Romans 3:23
No one, not one, is without an amount of sin. Some may have a lot, and some may have a little, but we all have some. The result of sin, whether great or small, in a person’s life is separation from God.
“For the wages of sin is death…” -Romans 6:23a
Wages. That’s what you earn when you have a job. Imagine starting at a new job. At the end of your first day, your boss brings everyone their paycheck for the month. You wont be getting as much as someone who has been working there all month. Your wages will be smaller than someone else who has more experience. We sometimes think that all sin is equal. This isn’t true. It is much worse to kill someone than to lie to them. cheating on your spouse is much worse than cheating at a board game. Even though there is different levels of sin, there is only one currency exchange for all sin: death. So whether you trade in a lot of terrible sins for a ton of death, or trade in a few minor sins for a small helping of death, the verdict seems to be the same. Sin equals death. So while all sin is not equal in that it brings varying degrees of negativity into this world, all sin is equal in the sense that any amount will bring you death
“…but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord.” -Romans 6:23b
God new that no one had the ability to live a life without sin. He knew that everyone would one day have to use their life to pay off the “wages” of sin they had earned. God knew that every human with sin, would ultimately be separated from Him. God does not want to be apart from you, so he came up with a plan, Jesus. Jesus could live a life without sin. He could pay the “wages” for every person who earned death…
It’s Friday. You wake up and get ready for the last day of school and your dad meets you on your way out the door. He gives you a dollar for lunch (you have some really cheap school lunches). You head to school only to be met by the school principal. He informs you that your time at school has cost the school money and that you would need to pay the school for your time there. He informs you that your debt stands at exactly one dollar. You know you have that, but if you give the principal the dollar, you have nothing. You struggle for a moment because you want to hold on to that dollar, but soon, you reason that it’s only one dollar and you do have to pay the debt and it’s not a big deal. You dig in your pocket for the dollar to hand over. Just then you hear a familiar warm loving voice behind you, “Hey Kid!” It’s dad. You had forgotten your math homework on the kitchen table and he was bringing it to you. He asks you what’s going on and the principal explains the situation. You add that you were just about to give the principal the dollar you had. All of a sudden your dad becomes mad; more upset than you have ever seen him. His eyebrows form a V, sweat appears on his forehead; his hands make cement fists; his eyes become windows to a burning building. He steps between you and the principal. He then begins to calmly and firmly talk to the principal. He doesn’t shout, but it seems like his words make the earth shake.
“I gave my child that dollar for a reason. That reason was NOT to pay you. The plan for that dollar was for something else. If you need a dollar, If there is a debt to pay, you talk to me. Not. My. Kid.”
Dad then opens his briefcase. It’s full of dollar bills. Dad then holds the briefcase upside down over the principals head and lets the money shower down on him.
“This ought to cover my son, and every other student at this school.” Your father then turns to you, gets down on one knee, places his hand on your shoulder, looks into your eyes and tells you, “That dollar is yours, you can do whatever you want with it. Your debt is paid. I want you to follow the principal around though, and if he tries to get money from other students I want you to tell them what I did. Tell them that I already paid their debt, and I have more money where that came from. Have a great day, and I’ll see you soon.”
See, each of us has one life, and because of sin, a debt of death. We can either use our one life to pay that debt (but then we would have nothing), or we could look to our heavenly father who IS life to cover the debt for all our friends and us. See, Jesus was God and God is life. He has the “funds” to cover not only your debt, but the debts of every person from the beginning of time to the end of time, and even after he is done paying out life for every person, He still has more left! That’s why he rose from the grave!
This may be a dangerous idea, and it has no basis, save my own imagination, but I believe Jesus didn’t die once. I believe it was a real death. I believe He was fully human, but the bible says He paid the debt for all mankind. How many people do you think have existed since Adam and Eve? Add that number to the number of people who will come into the earth. What is that number? What if that’s how many times Jesus died and came back to life? And even after all that dying, He is still alive. After paying all that debt of death, He still has life left over! Truly, Jesus is the way, the truth and life.
So why did Jesus have to DIE? Why didn’t He just say, “O.K. all is forgiven”?
- It’s the same reason some people don’t take checks, but will take cash. A check is basically a promise, a representation of cash. If God just promised satan to cover everyone’s debt, it wouldn’t be the same as actually DOING it. God wants you to have a real life. And the way for that to happen is from a real debt being paid by a real death.
- Have you ever been afraid of something? A dark room is a little less scary when someone you know is with you. A roller coaster is a little less frightening when someone who has gone on it before tells you what to expect and goes on it with you. In the same way, Jesus died so we are unafraid of death. For people who believe in God, death is not the end.
“…death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” – 1 Corinthians 15:55