Why did Jesus die? The answer seems to be obvious: Jesus came to save us from our sins, to save our souls, because He loves us so much. This is what we are told, and this is what we tell others. Getting people saved becomes many people’s first priority as Christians. But is this the only reason why Jesus came to die?
Around the world, many people believe that Jesus founded Christianity 2000 years ago, like Buddha with Buddhism or Muhammad with Islam. He is considered just a man who was enlightened to find another way to God.
I remembered when people first tried to share Jesus with me and I answered them, “I am Buddhist and you are Christian. All religions are the same, teaching people to do good things so that you can go to heaven.” My narrow view of Jesus and Christianity came from what my culture told me and from what I had heard and seen communicated by Christians. By the grace of God, He changed my life when I encountered Him personally and understood who He really is and why He came.
His death on the cross is only one part of the whole story. The story starts with the creation of the universe and finishes at the city of God, from Genesis to Revelation.
If we look at the world, when God first created it, everything is perfect and in harmony with God and with each other. At the end of each day of creation, He said, “It is good.” On the sixth day, when He created man and woman, He said, “It is very good.” God walked in the Garden of Eden and talked to Adam. Their relationship was perfect. Adam wrote a poem when he first saw Eve, when they both were naked and not ashamed. Their relationship was perfect. God gave mankind dominion over his creation. Adam’s first job was to work, keep the garden and name the animals. The garden was abundantly fruitful and the animals all lived at peace. Their relationship was perfect.
But when man sinned against God, these three relationships were broken. Adam and Eve were afraid of God and were thrown out of the garden. There was lots of finger pointing: Adam blamed Eve and God, Eve blamed the serpent for what had happened. The ground was cursed because of their sin, work became harder. All of creation was dying spiritually and physically.
Praise God that the story didn’t end there. God has a desire to restore what was broken. He raised up Abram and blessed him so that he would be a blessing. To Abram, He said, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God’s plan is to bless the whole world. He also raised up Moses and gave him the law to guide His people how to live in order to restore the three broken relationships—our relationship with God (Ex 20:2-11), our relationship with each other (Ex 20:12-17; Ex 23:1-9), and our relationship with creation (Ex 23:10-12). God doesn’t just care about spiritual things. He cares about all aspects of our life.
The next part is not only the most wonderful part of the story, but also the most important part. In most religions, people are required to sacrifice in order to please the gods. Christianity turns that upside down—God so loved mankind that He sent His Son to die for us.
Remember the question we asked, ‘Why did Jesus die?’ The answer is, “For in Him (Jesus) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20) Jesus came to reconcile everything that was broken in the fall. Of course, the three relationships will not be finally perfect until the end of the story when Jesus returns, but He left us with the great commission. While we are waiting for the return, we are called to go and make disciples of all nations. It means helping the nations follow God’s intentions in all the areas that He has come to reconcile. There are two parts in this commission—one is to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and the other is to teach others to observe all that Jesus has commanded. We long to see people reconcile their relationship with God, and this will lead to reconciliation with one another and with the rest of God’s creation.
We are still waiting for the end of this story when God will make all things new—new heaven, new earth, and a new level of relationships. “He (God) will dwell with them, and they will be His people and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear, no more death, no more mourning nor crying nor pain.” (Revelation 21:1-7). This will be a glorious day! We don’t know the time, but it’s surely coming.
I understand why Jesus died in light of the whole story—the wonderful story from beginning to end. God created a perfect world. Man sinned against God and damaged everything. God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die to reconcile all those broken relationships. Jesus will one day come again and make all things new. This has impacted and changed the ways I relate to God, to other people and to the rest of His creation. We all should ask the questions: Do we love and worship God as He deserves? Do we really love our neighbors as ourselves? Do we steward the creation that God entrusted to us?
I am excited to live my life for His glory in every area despite all the challenges that I might face, because I know that I am part of God’s grand plan and because He said, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).