Several days ago my brother-in-law asked an interesting question on Facebook. It caused me to think about what I believed about it and why. I knew what I believed and where to study to give a greater emphasis on the why, but actually doing the work and putting it into writing was sort of a powerful personal experience. In the many years I have professed being a follower of Christ I can’t think of a time that I studied something and put it into writing. Lots of studying, but no writing beyond a journal entry here and there.
My answer to my brother-in-law’s question ended up being much longer than I anticipated. Also, Easter will be here in less than a week. Thought it made a good post. 🙂
Christians place great emphasis on the belief that God sacrificed his only son for all us sinners. Can God only have one child? If so, then I can understand the importance. If not, then I do not see how God sacrificed that much. Just have another child. It is not as if God assumed human form and raised Jesus. What do you think?
You ask a big question… While I may not have the answer you’re looking for, I’ll try to give it a shot. I’m no theologian, so bear with me…
The answer lies in the mystery of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all existing as one being. Genesis 1:26-27, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…’ …in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (That scripture isn’t meant to start a debate about Evolution vs. Creationism, but to point out that the word “us” is used.) Then in John 14:9, “… Anyone who has seen me [Jesus] has seen the Father….” (There is way more verses than this; I’m just using these because they’re the easiest. Google “the Trinity” and you can find all kinds of stuff.)
Our English language is incredibly non-descriptive compared to the Greek. In the original Greek language used that we translated our English Bible from “only begotten” doesn’t simply mean “an only child.” It’s more of an “only of its kind” type of word. It’s a compound word where the first word means, “only, alone, by (one’s) self” and the second word means “be, be made, become, come to pass.”
This was a piece of the Trinity, a piece of God, the Creator of the universe incarnate in human flesh. This “only begotten son” was the sole representative of the Being and character of the one who sent him. None like it before, and none like it ever again. The Father/Son relationship between God and Jesus wasn’t one established by birth on earth, it had been established for all time.
God placed Adam and Eve on the earth blameless and perfect. They were given the option NOT to sin. But they did sin, and sin demands death. If you weren’t perfect before God he could, should, and would take you out; you don’t obey, you die. Since then, every man and woman born has sinned and sin still demands death. That is why in the Old Testament they sacrificed animals as atonement for sin. God required blood as penance for screwing up. But since perfection is demanded, the animal sacrificed had to be perfect. It was always spotless, perfect, and the most prized animal in the flock; often the first-born.
Jesus was born on earth with the same option as Adam. He had the OPTION to NOT sin. He walked the planet in perfection for 33 years. He’s the only one that has made it without screwing up. Since he was spotless, blameless, and perfect he was the only person/animal/thing worthy of being sacrificed as atonement for the sin of man. Sin demands death.
As the “only begotten son” of God, or the “only one of his kind”, Jesus was sacrificed to atone for every sin that had ever been committed or ever will be committed. He was the only acceptable sacrifice as the “only one of his kind”. No one could ever earn their way to Heaven by sinning and sacrificing, sinning and sacrificing, and over and over again. Now the idea of having to earn your way to Heaven was wiped away because of the ultimate sacrifice of God giving his son, and Jesus giving his life. Sin demanded death as payment. Now the debt has been paid.
We couldn’t earn our way to Heaven. But even if we tried to pay the debt of death, it isn’t owed anymore because of Jesus. All he asks of us is that we believe he is who he says he is, and believe that his death was the final atoning sacrifice for our sin. Those two beliefs are what allow us to spend eternity with him in Heaven.