Essentials 3 – Rescue
Essentials 3 – Rescue
Hear the greatest news in the world about how God has rescued us from our biggest danger.
Listen to how Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross to save us from the punishment we deserve.
Learning another language can seem overwhelming. There are so many new words to memorise and so many ways to combine them. But here’s my tip: In every language there is always one sentence to learn as soon as you can, and it’s this: My friend will pay.’ Cosmic treason is expensive. Because of how we’ve treated God, we deserve to spend eternity in hell. But here is the good news, or more precisely, here is the stop-what-you-are-doing, wake-up-and-pay-attention, eternity-changing, joyful news. Jesus came to rescue us from the punishment we deserve. Sometimes we hear of individuals who deliberately put themselves in the way of danger to protect those they love. They are willing to pay with their life in order to keep their beloved safe. Elsa Delplace was such a person. She was 35 years old when armed gunmen burst into the music concert she was attending in Paris. They opened fire and instinctively she threw herself on top of her five-year-old son Louis. Wonderfully, he survived – but only because of his mum’s sacrificial love.
Do you realise that Jesus did something even more amazing? He sacrificed himself to pay for our sin. Because of love, he chose to endure the punishment we deserve – and he did this when his hands and feet were nailed to a wooden cross, and he was lifted up to suffer in our place. Listen to how Luke’s Gospel records what happened: So why didn’t he? He had calmed a storm, he had walked on water, and he had raised the dead, so why didn’t he save himself? Why did Jesus stay on the cross? Well, imagine you are out in the countryside and you stumble across a group of school children in desperate trouble. They’re in a fast-flowing river, and up ahead you spot a dangerous waterfall. Thankfully, by the side of the bank there’s a life ring, and so you throw it to their teacher. And then you watch him as one by one he places it over the head of each child. With great joy, you pull each youngster to safety until there is only one left in the water… but now the waterfall is very close… and then you watch the teacher place the life ring over the head of the final child. But just as you pull him to safety, the teacher is swept over the edge. Now if later someone says to you, Why didn’t he save himself?’ you would say: Because he was saving others.’ The same is true with Jesus. He chose to stay on the cross in order to save us from the punishment we deserve.
Some people wonder why God couldn’t let us off. Why did Jesus have to pay the price for our sin? Imagine you borrowed my smartphone. You are heading on a hike and you want to keep in touch with your family, so I give you my phone. You promise to use it carefully but once you start your trip you do the very opposite. You throw it around, you drop it on the ground, and you scrape it along a stone wall. When you bring it back, it is completely ruined. Now, you are very sorry for what you have done, and I do want us to be friends. But who will bear the cost of your recklessness? It cannot just vanish into thin air. One of us will have to pay. Likewise, our rejection of God results in a cost that cannot disappear. Sin has a price and it must be paid.
But here is the great news – motivated by love, Jesus paid it for us. He bore the cost so we never have to. The punishment we deserve to experience in hell, he experienced on the cross. He took the hit so we can be safe. We know that Jesus died on a cross. But listen to how Luke’s Gospel describes what happened after Jesus’ body was put in a tomb: This spectacular event in human history was God the Father’s way of demonstrating that Jesus’ suffering was enough. The resurrection of Jesus is like a divine receipt, proof that the death of Jesus on the cross was sufficient to cover all of our sins. It’s vital to recognise that the death of Jesus only has advantage for certain people.
Jesus has done everything necessary so that anyone can be rescued from the punishment they deserve. But only those who are personally committed to him will benefit from his great sacrifice. Many people find the idea of someone else paying for their sin very difficult. Think about the last time you went out for a meal with your friends. How did you settle the bill? Normally people pay for their own meals. It’s a small example of a bigger principle. In life we take great pride on being able to pay for things ourselves, but if we decide to do this with our sin, we will spend eternity in hell. But there is another way. If we choose to embrace Jesus as our King we will experience an eternity of joy, and all because our friend has paid.