Theology 101 — Jesus: Came to Redeem Sinnerscomment (0)
February 20, 2014
By Jerry Batson
When John the Baptist presented Jesus and His purpose for coming into the world, John couched his announcement in terms of “taking away” sin. He made that point by invoking the imagery of a lamb as a descriptive title for Jesus. John’s announcement was simple and to the point, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
The imagery of a lamb recalls the temple sacrifices made under the old covenant. People brought sacrificial lambs, which priests offered in their behalf on the temple altar. God accepted the blood of the animals as atonement for the people’s sins.
The new covenant arrangement that Jesus introduced did not call for sinners to bring their lambs for sacrifice. Rather God provided the sacrificial Lamb. Jesus was that Lamb. Hence John accurately introduced Jesus as the “Lamb of God.” As God’s Lamb, sent for the redemption of sinners, Jesus was the perfect, unrepeatable, once-for-all sacrifice for sin.
We need to ask why a sacrifice for sins is needful. The Bible’s answer is quite clear. Sin creates separation from God and stands as a barrier between each of us and God. The sin of Adam and Eve resulted in their separation from God and His garden. Once separated, a barrier was erected that kept the guilty pair separated. Genesis describes that ancient barrier as guarding cherubim and a flaming sword (Gen. 3:24).
At the Last Supper, Jesus spoke to His disciples about going away to prepare a place for them. In doing so, Jesus told the disciples that they knew the way to where He was going. However, Thomas, in his typical frank honesty, asserted that the disciples did not know where Jesus was going, much less the way. Jesus’ response to Thomas and the others began with the declaration, “I am the Way” (John 14:6). Apparently Jesus had in mind the way to the Father’s house.
Foreshadowed by the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, Jesus came as the final and perfect sacrifice that takes away our sin. In taking sin away, He removes the separating barrier between sinners who are guilty and God who is holy. By means of His self-sacrifice, Jesus opened the way back to God.
Jesus came and died for our sins in order that He might open for us the way to an eternity with God, along with a life of fellowship with Him in the present time. To do this, Jesus had to remove the barrier of our sins, which blocks the path that leads into God’s presence for time and eternity. John’s prophetic word was that Jesus came to do exactly this by accepting His role as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Sin that separates also enslaves. Enslaved persons need to be set free. As Redeemer, Jesus sets sinners free from sin. Immediately He frees us from sin’s penalty. Over time He works in us to free us from sin’s power. One day He will return and redeem us from sin’s presence by gathering us unto Himself.
Of all the wonderful accomplishments of Jesus during His earthly ministry, not the least was His mission to redeem sinners. That accomplishment lay at the very core of why Jesus came. Linking this part of His mission with that of last week’s information, we affirm as Christians that Jesus came both to reveal God and redeem sinners.