God sent His Son to die for us. TRUE.
However, God didn’t send His son merely to die for us. If Jesus were sent only to die, purely to die, then why couldn’t He have just died the day after His birth? Why live? Why suffer? Why preach and teach and perform miracles?
As I sat on Holy Saturday, reflecting on the wonder that is Christ’s death it occurred to me that Christ didn’t come only to die. God didn’t His Son just to die for us. If we focus only on the fact that Christ died for us – which, don’t get me wrong, is a BIG DEAL – then we miss so much of His message and His purpose.
In Luke’s gospel we read a story of Jesus in the synagogue reading from the prophet Isaiah, explaining His purpose in coming: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
Jesus didn’t come only to die. He came to live. He came to show us how to live, how to love, and how to be with Him in heaven one day. He came to be with us, to give us the Advocate, to bring joy to our lives, freedom from sin, and hope for the hopeless. He came to redeem our sufferings and reunite us with the Father. His death – while meaningful – is the culmination of His life’s work and purpose.
One might even go so far as to say that without His life – parables, miracles, teachings, and the like – His death very well could have been meaningless. A boy born in a stable (even to a supposed virgin) who died the next day could have been lost in the history books, if he ever made it into the books at all. But that’s not how it all happened, is it? He came. He lived. He lived well. He lived perfectly. Sinlessly. And then, when the time had come and He had shared the Father’s message with us, then He died.
And then He rose.
As we celebrate this glorious Easter season, let us remember that not only did Jesus die for us, but He also lived for us, a shining beacon of hope in a world that had been (and still is, at least in the sense that He hasn’t returned) painfully separated from God by our own sin. He was born for us, born, walked, and lived among us so that we might know life and know it to the full.