Peter Duke, Cumbalum
Christianity teaches Jesus came to die for the sins of the world, but 24 hours before the crucifixion Jesus said, ‘I have finished the work you gave me to do’ (John 17:4). So why the anomaly? ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways… and my ways are higher than yours’ (Isaiah 55:9-10). That’s fair enough.
So what did Jesus come to do (according to God, not man!). He came to show us who God is: ‘I have glorified you on Earth. I have finished the work you gave me to do’ (John 17:4). To glorify is to highlight, which in turn, reveals God’s character.
So what did we learn? Jesus healed everyone they brought to him (Mark 1:32), fed the hungry, showed great compassion, grieved for the hardness of people, walked knowingly to his death, forgave those who tortured and killed him, turned other cheek, judged no man (John 8:15), condemned no one (John 3:16), etc. No wonder John said ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8).
The above is at the heart of the gospel (Jesus is mediator).
So what about the Cross? If God didn’t require Jesus’ death, who did. Guess? (humanity). The only way humanity could see redemption or atonement, was by way of sacrifice. And, or, was (is) it something in our hearts? So Jesus walked the walk for us. This shows the ‘Cross’ in its true light.
In regards to sacrifice in the Old Testament, the law is full of sacrifice (animal). Yet Psalm (40:4) says ‘I desire no sacrifice’ (Also see Jeremiah 7:13-25). So what happened? In the OT, when the people rejected God (i.e. Exodus 6:9), which was most of the time, he mirrored onto them, and gave them what they wanted (he can read our hearts, and you can’t force love). The law (Ten Commandments etc. including animal sacrifice) is such an example, and the law is how we learn (we are still learning). The law also reflects God’s Character (i.e. you should not: kill, steal, lie, covet…; and giving, forgiveness, love thy neighbour, love one another, love your enemy, etc.). Jesus magnified OT law.
There’s a much bigger story (veil) here, including the severity and judgement of God in OT. Jesus never killed anyone! Nor does he judge us (that’s good). So neither does God (John 5:22)! God is love. Hence the gospel (why Jesus came). If you’re interested, check out the book Acts of our Gentle God (J Sculberg).
Note: ‘The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits and without partiality, and without hypocrisy.’ (James 3:17).