What does it mean, “Jesus died for our sins”?
Christians will be familiar with the idioms: “God sacrificed his only son” and “Jesus died for our sins.” For many Christians, the meaning of the phrases is confusing at best and horrifically sad at worst. How could God “sacrifice” his only son? And what does Jesus’ death have to do with our salvation?
“God sacrificed his son”
Some may envision God’s “sacrifice” of Jesus as a stern deity surrendering his child on an altar. Wipe the image from your mind. This is not what God’s sacrifice means although as a metaphor, it is indeed quite accurate.
God’s sacrifice was sending his son into a dangerously sinful world knowing that Jesus would be harmed. God sent Jesus to show the world the sins they were blindly ignoring, to clarify and explain Old Testament edicts, and to demonstrate to mankind how we should strive to lead our lives while on earth. This must have been painful for God but in the scheme of God’s overall plan, Jesus’ activity on earth was a brief speck in time.
“Jesus died for our sins”
How could Jesus’ death atone for our sins? God told us “without shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” meaning, forgiveness does not come for free – it comes through sacrifice. Jesus death was the perfect example of God’s tenet.
Jesus told his followers what his purpose would be when he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He summed up his mission on the cross when, amidst soldiers gambling for his clothes, church elders belittling him, and the crowd blaspheming his dying body, he uttered the words, “Father, forgive them”. Upon resurrection, Jesus announced success of God’s objective when offering the introductory words, “Peace be with you”.
Jesus’ sacrifice resulted in the birth of Christianity – the origin of the religious doctrines that mankind so desperately needed – and marked the moment in time when man’s atonement became conditioned on his behavior and belief.
Could there be an alternative plan?
God’s plan seems elaborate, complicated, and painful for the participants. Couldn’t God have done it another way? Maybe so. Maybe not. It’s not our call nor our purpose to truly comprehend God’s actions. However, we know from scriptures that one of his primary purposes was to judge. With Jesus’ death, the rules changed from a formal, rigid structure of old covenant law to a new covenant objective to live sin-free with a promise of everlasting life if we are judged to have done our best.
How do we capitalize on Jesus’ sacrifice?
Benefiting from God’s plan is simple – with faith. You must choose to believe in God’s message and strive to live as he commanded. In return, you are forgiven for your sins and promised an existence beyond the concrete, physical realm.
If you desire to become a Christian, pray this prayer with sincerity.
“Lord Jesus Christ, I believe you died on the cross to provide a new life for me. I ask you to become a part of my life. I recognize and admit that I am a sinner, that I have done wrong. Please forgive me for my sins. I receive you now as my Lord and Savior. Help me to follow your teachings and to serve you all my life. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.”