Friday, March 25, 2016

Who Did Jesus Die For & Why Does That Matter?

Today is Good Friday. Today is the day that many Christians around the world are remembering how Jesus willingly gave His life so that we could be ransomed out of the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God.

But who is the ‘we’ in that sentence? 
Did Jesus only die for those who will eventually put their faith in Him? Did Jesus only die for the elect? Some say yes, & some say no.

Why does that question even matter? There are many responses one could give, but let me offer a few.

If Jesus died for everyone, then every life is supremely valuable. If every life is supremely valuable to Jesus because He died for each person, then He truly desires that none perish, but all come to repentance.

If Jesus died for everyone and everyone is supremely valuable to Him, then everyone needs to hear the gospel message. If Jesus died for everyone and everyone is supremely valuable to Him, then everyone needs to see the gospel message lived out with integrity by His disciples.

If Jesus died for everyone and everyone is supremely valuable to Him, then the way we respond to people when we’re angry or feel unjustly wronged is really important.

This one is particularly difficult for me. Last week I wrote about a situation where my daughter was wronged by another kid, and I lost it. You can read that entry here:

Some people thought I was in the right, some thought I was in the wrong. The more I think about that situation, and particularly the more I think about what Jesus said and did on Good Friday, the more I feel like I could have handled it better.

Good Friday was the biggest display of injustice in the history of humanity. And how did our Leader handle Himself? With grace. With patience. With meekness. With kindness. With forgiveness. With love.

Jesus said it Himself. He could have called down 12 legions of angels and wrecked shop (Matthew 26:53). Instead, He practiced what He had been preaching all along. He modeled what He expects of His followers.

Who did Jesus die for? The early Christians believed that on Good Friday Jesus lovingly chose to die for a world that had all turned against Him. He died for those who would receive Him and those who would reject Him. And they believed that followers of Jesus are to graciously reflect that love to the world. So may you be filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly live out the holy love of our Savior on Good Friday.

God, being good, “makes His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sends His rain upon the just and the unjust.” And He encourages us to a similar course of action in order that we may become His sons. … For He Himself is said to be the Savior of all men, especially of them that believe; and His Christ to be the “propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” … “God commends His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us;” and although “scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet perhaps for a good man some would even dare to die.” But now is Jesus declared to have come for the sake of sinners in all parts of the world (that they may forsake their sin, and entrust themselves to God). – Origen, Volume 4 p. 887-888 [CD-ROM]

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