Who do we worship?
Jesus really needed to get his point across, in words as well as actions. He had three years to demonstrate exactly why he had come to earth. He had to show them what a redeemer is and what a redeemer does.
A redeemer is needed because of these few stark words in the Letter to the Hebrews.
"... and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness," (Hebrews 9:22)
Leading up to this can be a long story if you're new to the whole concept but, as you've already got so far, here it is in precis:
Adam and Eve had it made. They were tempted by Satan and they sinned. They fell, the World fell and mankind was separated from God. Redemption is the need for mankind to undo all the bad stuff and get back to God. Animal sacrifices were instituted, but were always a temporary measure, sinking into a meaningless ritual. The real trouble is in the heart of man. Only a permanent solution will do, but blood needs to be shed, because that's how it works (not for us to argue). A Redeemer is needed to bring this about. A substitute for the animal sacrifice. Jesus came to fulfil that role. As (mainly) Gentiles living in a future time, in a far off land, in an alien culture, we need to gain an understanding of such things, that would have been instinctive to the Hebrew soul, not that they ever realized that privilege at the time!
So how did he go about it? Here is the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus, Son of God. You've heard it all before but, let's face it, we never tire of hearing it, do we?
"For God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." (Colossians 1:19-20)
This is it, the crux, the means of our salvation and the key to his victory over death. Jesus, the Son of Man, interrupted his life in eternity, to live on Earth, to give us those marvelous teachings, to set such a wonderful example but, most of all, to die.
The sacrificial system, instituted by God as the only means of man getting right with Him, tells us that, without the shedding of the blood of an innocent, there can be no way back to Him. Our sins and misdemeanours get in the way, our imperfections can't live with the perfection of the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.
Here's where the two worlds collide.
Man, racked by sin and guilt, unable to find true communion with God, his heavenly father. Too many sins, too many blood sacrifices needed to cover them, no other way to find peace with his Creator.
God, motivated by love and compassion, reaches down to man and offers a full reconciliation by offering himself, as the Jesus of history, the man who lived among us and gave us a glimpse of God Himself, as ... a sacrifice.
He took the place of all those animals slaughtered in the Temple and he allowed himself to be captured, tried by the Jewish court for blasphemy and executed by the Romans, death by crucifixion, death on a cross.
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:10)
Such a death. This wasn't Hitler, Stalin or Saddam Hussein, who deserved it. This wasn't your average thief, villain or scoundrel who probably deserved it. This was a man who was present at the creation of the universe, who could have called a legion of angels to stop what was happening, who had the choice to do what he wanted. He chose his death, he chose such a death!
He endured insults by the Roman soldiers, a crown of thorns, and the indescribable pain of crucifixion, yet he could have wiped them out with the click of his fingers. But he went to his death willingly.
(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book Jesus Man of Many Names)