Why The Cross? – Part 1
Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to go to the cross? Or what the cross has to do with your life today? How can a 2,000 year old event possibly be relevant to us?
It’s rather complicated, yet clearly simple.
Man was created to live with God forever but he disobeyed God’s simple command to abstain from eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam’s sin placed all of mankind under the curse of sin and left us all in need of a Savior. The cross was God’s preordained response to our need for redemption. That’s why Jesus came…to reestablish our relationship with God that had been broken because of sin.
That’s the short version. But Scripture Dig doesn’t exist to sum things up. The passion of our heart is to thoroughly convey the truths of God’s Word as we all seek to grow and know Him more (at least to the extent our small space in cyberspace will allow in a blog). So, we’re going to take a walk through Scripture to get a thorough understanding of the plan and purpose of the cross.
It all began in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve lived the dream life. They had everything they could possibly need, Beautiful rivers flowing through jewel laden lands; food for the taking and the presence of the Living God. Certainly, beyond anything we could ever imagine.
But there was one stipulation – God told them they could eat from any tree in all the land, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. His warning was clear. “…for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen 2:17)
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the enemy of our souls came dressed in snake’s skin with destruction on his heart and lies on his lips. Eve succumbed to the enemy and Adam succumbed to Eve. And that was the beginning of the end.
The forbidden fruit brought an awareness of their own nakedness. They quickly clothed themselves with fig leaves and tried to hide themselves from God. “Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” Gen 3:9
The Lord knew where they were and what they had done, but it was confession time for the not-so-dynamic duo. The fig leaves may have covered their nakedness, but their sin and their shame remained.
After a couple of attempts to pass the buck, they knew they had to face the consequences. It was immediate death. Not physically, but spiritually. They were given the knowledge of good and evil and found themselves on the wrong side of the track.
With Adam and Eve standing there wearing nothing but their sin, shame and a couple of fig leaves, the Lord came to their rescue and clothed them in a coat made from animal skin. Since the skin of an animal is not available unless blood has been shed and death has occurred, it was obvious what had taken place. The animal’s life was sacrificed to cover the culpable couple’s sin and shame.
Genesis 3:21 says, “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.”
In what was the first animal sacrifice, we find a picture of things to come. Before the sacrificial law was ever established, Abel, Noah and Abraham offered sacrifices to the Lord as an act of worship. But the system of sacrifices wasn’t officially instituted until Moses passed through the Red Sea and set God’s people free.
In Exodus 28 we find Aaron ordained by God as the first high priest – the one responsible for carrying out acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. In Exodus 28 & 29, we encounter variety of offerings ordained by God, but in Leviticus 1 – 7 we find a more detailed description of Israel’s sacrificial system.
There was one sacrifice described in Leviticus 16 that was held once a year to “take away sin.” It was the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) – the Jewish High Day. During that holy day the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies where he offered a blemish-free bull before the Lord. He then sprinkled it’s blood on the Mercy Seat. Two goats were then offered. One as a sacrifice, the other as a scape goat. A bloody picture of the need for our sin to be cleansed and carried away.
All because of sin!
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 9:22 that, “according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”
Although space limits our ability to thoroughly cover the concept of the sacrificial system, today we we able to lay the Old Testament foundation for the cross. Tomorrow, we will move into the New Testament and discover why the cross was not only important, but necessary.
Do you struggle with understanding the purpose and the plan of the cross? Did anything in this post help you understand or appreciate why Jesus went the cross?