Summary: Why did God have to kill His Son for me to obtain forgiveness. Why couldn't God have simply forgiven me without that sacrifice?
OPEN: Dick Van Dyke once told a story about a preacher who was showing his 4 year old son a picture of Jesus. But the man didn’t want his son to get the wrong idea and so he said: “But son… it’s not really Jesus. It’s just an artist’s impression of Jesus.” The boy looked closely at the picture and then he looked up at his dad and said “Well, it certainly looks like Him.”
There have been numerous paintings of Jesus down thru the ages. There is a European Jesus (we showed pictures of each Jesus painting), and a Black Jesus, and a Hispanic Jesus, and an Oriental Jesus, and of course… there’s the Jewish Jesus - which He actually was.
But no matter how Jesus is portrayed in art, we still have no idea EXACTLY what He looked like. Of course, that really doesn’t matter, because IF it mattered the early church would have painted His image on everything in sight, and the Bible would have given us a detailed description of what He looked like (which it doesn’t).
And that’s because - it’s not what Jesus looked like that matters. It’s what Jesus DID that matters.
John 3:16 says that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever should believe in Him might not perish but have everlasting life.” Or, as Romans 5:8 says it: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
You see, that’s the picture that Scripture paints of Jesus = The Son of God, born to die on a cross for our sins.
Or, as Joe Scott put it in his video: “There was absolutely no reason for my 10 year old self to doubt that there was a God. That He loved me. And that He gave His Son’s life so that everything I’d ever do would be forgiven.” That’s the image that 10 yr. old Joe Scott had in his mind, and that’s how he saw Jesus. But as he grew older, things got more complex for him, and he eventually got to the point where he asked: WHY? Why did God have to kill His Son in order to forgive my sins? Why couldn’t He just forgive me?
And this became a real sticking point for Joe Scott - but whether it’s a sticking point for him or not, that is that the Bible teaches. That is the image of Christ painted across the scriptures: The Son of God, dying so that we could be forgiven.
Now, that said, Joe’s questions still have merit. Why DID God have to kill His Son to forgive my sins? Why COULDN’T He just forgive me?
So let’s try to answer those questions. 1st – Why Did God Have to Kill His Son to Forgive Our sins?
Well, it helps to realize that sacrifice for sin is taught throughout the Old Testament. As Hebrews 9:22 tells us “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
Something had TO DIE to atone for sin. In fact, you see that back in Genesis when Adam and Eve sinned. They tried covering their nakedness with fig leaves, but that wasn’t getting the job done (they still were ashamed). But then in Genesis 3:21 - “The LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”
Garments of skins? Where would God get garments of skins? From animals that had to die to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. Did those animals vollunteer their skins? No. They had to die. And that was a recurring theme throughout scripture. Something had to die, so that our sin could be covered.
When the Ark of the Covenant was constructed, the top of the Ark was called the “Mercy Seat.” And every year the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies and carry with him the blood of an innocent sacrifice which was placed on the “Mercy seat”. But, WHY was the blood placed there? ANSWER: To cover the sins of the people. Literally, the blood of the sacrifice shielded their sins from God’s eyes.
Psalms 5:4 tells us “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.”
And Habakkuk 1:13 described God as “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong”
The blood covered the sins of the people so God didn’t have to look at it. As I was preparing the sermon, I remembered a phrase “Cover your eyes.” And I thought - what does that mean? Well, it means that something is so embarrassing or painful to see that you can’t bear to look upon it.