|Volume 23 Number 10 October 2021
Why Did My Savior Come to Earth?
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11 NKJV). In the history of God’s people, from the sacrifice of Abel through the commanded sacrifices of the Law of Moses and up to the death of Christ, have you ever wondered about the amount of blood that was shed from animal sacrifices for sin? Just how many gallons were poured out for atonement? It is incalculable. The writer of Hebrews stated, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). Yet, he continued, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). Though all of that blood was shed, still, it could not offer forgiveness.
All that shed blood prefigured the ultimate sacrifice that would be made by Christ when He died on the cross. If Jesus Christ had not lived a sinless life, and if He had not shed His blood as He did on the cross, we would still be in our sins. In addition, all who preceded us and all who may follow us would remain in their sins. This was the plan of God before anything was made, before we were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27; Ephesians 1:4). All that animal blood foreshadowed what Christ would be and do for us. “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Animal sacrifices were to be the best, with no imperfections, since they foreshadowed the Son of God, Who was the ultimate sacrifice necessary for sins to be forgiven. This is why God was upset with what those Israelites who returned from captivity were doing, offering the blind, lame and the sick (Malachi 1:8). Not even a governor would be happy with such being given to him, and certainly, the Lord God reflected on their attitude toward Him. The sacrificial system pointed to God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, who become flesh and blood, which blood was poured out for all people of all time. Christ came in the fulness of time (Galatians 4:4-5), providing redemption through His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).
For people to say or to imply that sin is no big deal is to impugn God, who conceived and carried out this plan, the only plan, for our cleansing. It impugns all those who came before us who offered those animal sacrifices in faith of what Christ would do. It impugns the Son of God, Who became human in submission to the will of God, which meant dying as a sacrifice for us so we could be free from the consequences of sin (Philippians 2:8-11).
Were all those animals that were slaughtered and whose blood was poured out at the altar in the patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations really necessary? Absolutely! Why? Because they all dealt with sin, and for sin to be forgiven they had to be sacrificed; they were necessary because of the problem of sin that has plagued humanity since the Garden of Eden. They were a constant part of one’s relationship with God because sin was a constant part of human existence. The animals were sinless, since they were incapable of sinning – having no consciousness of sin. They pointed to the greater sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice, Who enables souls to receive God’s forgiveness. Only Christ was tempted to sin but chose not to sin. What a great sacrifice His was, and how great should He be to us. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Gary C. Hampton
A very powerful thought is recorded on the tomb of an Anglican bishop in Westminster Abbey.
When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it too seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now as I lay on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world. (Anonymous. Condensed Chicken Soup for the Soul. Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Patty Hansen, 1996.)
That inscription reminds me of one of the most misunderstood incidents in the life of Christ, which occurred after His resurrection. Jesus had just told Peter that He would be bound and forced to go where he did not want to go when he was old. Peter looked around and saw John. He then asked, “But Lord, what about this man?” (John 21:21 NKJV). Jesus responded, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me” (John 21:22). John reported that a rumor came out of the exchange between Peter and the Lord which said that disciple would not have to die (John 21:23). Of course, the Lord did not say John would not have to die. Instead, he was trying to let Peter know that he should focus on his own relationship to the Lord and let the Lord deal with others, like John.
To be a highly successful Christian, I must determine to take responsibility for myself. Paul told the saints at Rome, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). In his second letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle gave a little more insight into the day of accounting. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (5:10). No wonder he went on to command them to, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified” (13:5).
Avoiding disqualification will require me to plant the right kind of seed (actions) in my life. As Paul told the churches of Galatia, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (6:7-8).
Nathan, my son, has always enjoyed working in the garden with his granddaddy. One year, he got his granny to send some seeds home from the garden so he could plant them at our house. Of course, his mother and I forgot all about them. When spring came, Nathan asked about the seeds. Teresa found the old pill bottle containing the seeds from granddaddy’s garden. Nathan assured me they were watermelon seeds. Though they did not look like any watermelon seeds I had ever seen, we planted them in mounds the appropriate distance apart. Sure enough, vines began to grow after a short time. Then, came blooms and, later, a slowly elongating green fruit. After several more weeks, we had some of the finest inedible gourds you have ever seen!
Why did we not get the watermelons for which Nathan had his appetite whetted? We did not plant the right kind of seed! Similarly, those who want to go to Heaven and attain the Christian’s ultimate “success” must plant and cultivate the good works of the Spirit in our lives! I cannot expect to plant a selfish, worldly life and reap everlasting life in Heaven.
It seems many people today, as well as in the past, like to blame others for their failures. Flip Wilson, the comedian, used to say, “The devil made me do it.” For others, it is their parents, teachers, society, an inherited defect, environment and hundreds of other things that are to blame for their misdeeds. Rather than blame his upbringing, Paul wrote, “Although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief… This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:13, 15). He encouraged his brothers and sisters in Philippi to take a similar attitude by writing, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (2:12).
Rather than waste my time trying to change the world, I need to take responsibility for myself. When I do, there is a very real possibility that I will positively impact my family. Through them, I can improve my community. An improved community will certainly make my nation better and, if God wills, it can change the world!