Yesterday we studied Justification and Redemption – the what’s of God’s plan for us. Today we study Atonement, the why.
While the bible is full of insights so that we can learn about our great God, there are few places where God plainly explains why He does what He does. On one hand, this is because He is the King, we are not, and He does not have to constantly explain Himself to us. On the other hand, we sometimes fail to see that all of the reasons tie back to the “whys” that He does provide.
Let me explain what I mean. John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Why was Jesus given to us? Because “God so loved the world.” Did He love the world because of something we did or said? No, He just “so love the world.” Was this a loan, something we are expected to pay back? What is in it for God? “He so loved the world.” It is all about and all stems from His love of us. Period. End. But, why does He love us? Because He does. He gets to make that choice and decision and He chose to love us deeply.
We were made in God’s image and Adam and Eve lived in complete harmony and community with God. As the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One, we were part of that. We were part of the “one-ness” of God. When we chose (and choose each day) sin, we chose/choose to pull away from that “one-ness” with God even while every fiber of our soul yearns for it.
As sinners, we could not and cannot rejoin the one-ness of a purely holy being. But, In His love for us, God has always yearned for us to be rejoined to Himself. So, since we could not ascend to Him, He descended to us. He became fully man and paid the price of our sin, so that through Him, would could again become holy and live with Him forever. There is no path other than through Him, because no one else has the ability to remove the sin.
Christ’s “sacrifice of atonement” is the sacrifice made by the priests on Yom Kippur (Kippur means Atonement). But unlike that day which was the only day of the year that the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, Christ’s sacrifice was complete and never needs repeating. He is our High Priest and stands in the tabernacle every day. His “atonement” allows us to once again be “at-one-with” our God.
We also get one more glimpse of a “why” of God in the verses today. “He did this to demonstrate His Righteousness.” What we could not do in our unrighteousness, Jesus accomplished – as fully man, like us – demonstrating that it was not impossible (which would not have been fair or just) but that it was only impossible for us on our own.
We originally were made in God’s image and walked with Him, but sin separated us from holiness. The sacrifice Christ has made provides the avenue to again be “at-one-with” our creator through acceptance of the gift, repentance, faith and the power of the Holy Spirit.
It was His plan from the beginning – because there is not greater love. By giving my life into His hands.