My grandfather was a good man. He had a way about him that was both blunt and loving. He said what was on his mind without a care in the world of what you or anyone else thought of him, but he always spoke out of love, and as best he could he always spoke the truth. In his later years my grandfather became a woodworker. He made some beautiful things with his hands. Many of which are cherished and priceless to our family. There is one in particular that makes me laugh every time I see it. It’s my grandfather personified in art. It’s a small wooden box with a cross on its top. On the box is written “Why did Jesus have to die?” When you open up the box there is a mirror inside. He handed it to me after he finished it. I opened it up, and when he saw my reaction he laughed in that deep throated laugh of his and he said, “Straight and to the point isn’t it.” You see, my grandfather understood something that is lost on my generation. It doesn’t matter what we think or feel. It doesn’t matter how much we wish something was not true. It doesn’t change truth. Christ had to die a terrible bloody death because of me, because of you. Because we have chosen evil and sin above our fellow man, above our creator. Not only have we chosen it, we are slaves to it. And that face looking back at me from my grandfathers mirror is a profound reminder of the necessity of the cross.
You see, a true look at scripture is at once a great inspiration and profoundly disturbing. To start with, we are all sinners. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NKJV) This means all of us have broken Gods law. We are all rebels in Gods kingdom. The price of rebellion, written in stone and unchangeable since the dawn of time is a hefty price, death and Hell. “For the wages of sin is death,” (Romans 6:23 NKJV). To make matters worse, our best attempts to right ourselves in the eyes of God falls short. “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6 NKJV). Man has tried time and time again, through knowledge, power, legalism, spiritualism, dogma, and others. He has failed at every attempt. The most recent attempt is a form of altruism. An idea that connecting with the earth and kindness to others is enough to earn us a place in Heaven, but even that falls short. The problem lies in our nature. We truly are slaves to sin. “Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.'” (John 8:34 NKJV) We are trapped by it and bound to its fate, and our situation is hopeless, or at least it was.
Into this bleak picture of man comes a savior, Immanuel, God with us. A perfect man, unstained by sin, and the righteous judge of the world. He is both fully God and fully man. With the power of God he has power over sin, and with the brokenness of his manhood he is the perfect mediator between us and God. He was tempted in every way that we are, but unlike us he fulfills Gods law to the letter. This perfect lamb of God then become our way back to the arms of The lord or all creation. He is our way home, but the way home for man is paved in blood. Jesus must die. Jesus said “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17-18 NKJV) Laws are fulfilled through righteous judgement. Prisoners are put in jail, murderers are executed. That is how laws are fulfilled. Jesus, the one righteous judge of the world, the one worthy of meting out that punishment on us chose to fulfill the law through himself. “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 NKJV) He took our punishment for us. His sinless life and brutal death on the cross fulfilled the law. Sin no longer holds sway over us. We are no longer its slave. All God asks is that we put our trust in him. We must believe that what is said of him is true. We must have faith in the saving power of Jesus.
This wonderful powerful act, as good as it is, isn’t the whole story. Not only did Christ die for us, he rose from the dead. Without it our faith is in vain. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” (I Corinthians 15:13-14 NKJV) If Christ remained in the tomb then he was not God. If he had no power over death then he would not have fulfilled the prophesies written about him. He would have proven to just be a man. That’s why the empty tomb is of such great importance to Christians. The empty tomb proves our faith is real. Our salvation is assured for all eternity, and we can enter into the presence of God the Father as an adopted child of God.
You see Christ did not have to die for me. He wanted to die for me. He wanted to die for you. He has the power of God, and with that power he could have called his angels to save him from the cross. He could have sent them after the Sanhedrin and burned the Roman soldiers where they stood. He didn’t have to die, he wanted to. That reflection in my grandfathers mirror, weather it is you or me, kept him there.