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6 MARCH 1988

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Leviticus 17:11
Zechariah 13:1
John 1:29
Romans 5:1-11
Hebrews 9:22-28
James 1:15

Preparation Verse: (Zechariah 13:1)

“In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity.”

Why did Jesus Christ have to die for me?

I suppose that just about all of us have asked that question at one time or another, and perhaps there are some of us here today who are still asking that question.

Since we are pointing our spiritual direction toward the cross during this Lenten season, it is also appropriate to take a look at this question and try to answer it.

Even if we know the answer, it is always good to remind ourselves that Jesus Christ did, in fact, die on the cross for each and every one of us personally.

Additionally, in the process of reminding ourselves about Jesus' death, we hopefully will learn to expand our spiritual vision to gain greater understanding into how God views the whole of His creation

As always, the best place to get our spiritual strength and answers is from the Word of God in the pages of our Bibles.

For the past several weeks we have been looking at James 1:15, and I believe we should take a look at it again.

15. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

This verse is a good reference point on which to get the answer to our question and, in particular, the reference to sin bringing about our death.

This verse is referring to our spiritual death in hell for all eternity. As much as we don't like to accept this state of affairs, it is nevertheless Biblically true.

If we sin, we are going to hell.

And since all of us have sinned, what hope do we have?

Our hope and salvation is in Jesus Christ, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

From Hebrews 9:22 we get a more defined direction to the answer to our question.

22. And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

According to the Bible, God made a blood covenant with man to atone for his sins.

According to some Bible commentators, the first time we saw this was in the redemption of Adam and Eve after the Fall, when God Himself sacrificed animals and then symbolically covered them and their sins with the skins of the animals.

However, the Bible doesn't say that God sacrificed any animals, nor does it say that any animals even died.

Yes, God did cover Adam and Eve with skin to cover their nakedness and sin, but we believe it was also to be a reminder of their sinful disobedience to God, much like the wearing of the killed albatross around the neck, as in the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.

But where did the skin come from, if not from sacrificed animals?

The skin could have been created by God, just as He created everything else, or perhaps it was the shed skin of the serpent who led them astray, which to us would be an even greater reminder of their sinful disobedience.

Thus we come to the conclusion and understanding that Adam and Eve's redemption came from God's grace, and not from the blood of innocent animals.

However, as sin multiplied in the world following the Flood, there was a blood covenant associated with redemption.

The whole first part of the Book of Leviticus describes the blood sacrifice. There it describes the sin offering and the other offerings.

It also appears that no animal was even killed for food without a portion of it being offered as a peace offering to the Lord. The blood, however, was never eaten. It was always poured out.

The reason for this is explained in Leviticus 17:11.

11. 'For the life [soul] of the flesh [creature or animal] is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life [soul] that makes atonement.'

It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word for "life" and "soul" is the same word, as used in this passage.

Thus it renders the true meaning of this verse to say that, by way of its substitution, it is the soul of the sacrificed animal that makes atonement for the soul of the human sinner.

And if any of your have ever wondered if animals have souls like we do, this verse proves that they do indeed have souls just like us.

In our Leviticus study verses for today (Leviticus 24:10-16), the man who blasphemed the Name of the Lord did not get a chance to make such atonement. He was put to death for his sin. He was under the Law, and under the Law any deliberate capital sin was punished by death.

10 Now the son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the sons of Israel; and the Israelite woman's son and a man of Israel struggled with each other in the camp.

11 And the son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name and cursed. So they brought him to Moses. (Now his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.)

12 And they put him in custody so that the command of the LORD might be made clear to them.

13 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

14 "Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him.

15 And you shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'If anyone curses his God, then he shall bear his sin.

16 'Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.

There probably are very few of us here today, if any, who have not at one time or another taken the Name of the Lord in vain. That is enough to condemn us to death.

Our execution was not carried out as was that of the man in our lesson verses. But without atonement, it will be. It's only that our trial date has not yet arrived.

But even if we could make atonement for our sins, there is no longer any temple or altar.

We no longer are to make sacrifices.

And since the sacrifice was for the Jew, and very few of us are Jews, how could we do it anyway?

If there is no forgiveness of sin without blood, how do we have any hope of being forgiven?

John the Baptist had the answer when he was baptizing in the Jordan. Note John 1:29.

29. The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

Yes; Jesus is the perfect, unblemished, Lamb of God. He is the perfect sacrifice. It is His blood that atones for our sins.

There is no longer any "need" to ever kill an animal.

The reason God tarries, and does not require stoning today, is because He wants us to believe on faith in Jesus Christ.

He does not want us to come to Him strictly on the basis of a pain and reward system.

However, after this grace period we are in now, it will be a different story, for there will be the Judgment.

This brings us back to the fact that God created us with a free will.

We can freely choose to believe in and follow Jesus Christ, and thus receive everlasting life with peace and joy.

We can also freely choose to reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, and thus receive everlasting death with suffering and pain.

The choice is ours. It is freely given. It can be freely received.

And most importantly, our free will choice of accepting Jesus Christ can only be exercised in this physical lifetime. There is no second opportunity, according to the Bible.

Let's go back to Hebrews 9 to see how Scripture ties this together, and continue with verses 23-28. Note how this answers our question of why Jesus Christ had to die for us.

23. Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these [the blood sacrifices of animals], but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

God made man in His own image, a copy of the heavenly, originally perfect but now imperfect.

He had Moses make the items for the tabernacle as copies of those which are in heaven. Imperfect though they were, they became acceptable when cleansed.

24. For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;

25. nor was it that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood not his own [the substitute soul for his soul and those of the Israelites.]

26. Otherwise, He [Jesus Christ] would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

The sacrifice of animals had to be done sin after sin. They also were copies of the perfect sacrifice. Jesus' sacrifice was perfect, once for all time.

Note specifically the next verse:

27. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,

28. so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

And who are the ones who eagerly await him?

It is those among us who have committed themselves wholly to God.

And why will God accept us? We are all still sinners, aren't we?

Because the precious blood of Jesus Christ has covered the sins of all who truly repent, thus blinding the eyes of God to the sin.

The problem is that most people don't truly repent.

They may say they are sorry and even ask the Lord to forgive them, but they continue in their sins.

When someone truly repents, they do everything in their power to sin no more.

We have been justified by faith as being righteous. Even though we are not really righteous, our faith in God and the acceptance of Jesus Christ has covered our sins as though we were righteous altogether.

This brings us back to our New Testament lesson verses for this morning, Romans 5:1-11.

1. Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

2. through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

3. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;

4. and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

5. and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

6. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

7. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.

8. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

9. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

10. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

11. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

This is why Jesus Christ had to die for us.

We no longer have to worry about what happens to us after this lifetime; for when we accept this great gift, we also reserve a place for ourselves in the kingdom of heaven.

And the proof of this is in our changed lifestyle, which also become a witness to others

If you have never set yourself straight with God, do it now.

If you have allowed something to enter your life that has blocked your communion with God, then confess it to God, and resolve to walk away from it. Our God is faithful to forgive us.

But don’t walk away from such a great gift as this.

Yes, Christ died for each and every one of us, to save us from the law of sin and death, to give us everlasting life.

But we must accept it!