October 23rd, 2020

Suffering for salvation

By Submitted Article on December 7, 2019.

For this Christ came

Second of four parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

In Christ’s last week in Jerusalem, while his horrible death approached, his human nature began to flinch: “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But it is for this reason that I came to this hour” (John 12:27).

This conflict between his human and divine natures peaked in the garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if it is your will, take this cup away from meÉ” If the Father granted his request, there would have been no Saviour and no salvation. Fortunately, he added, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

He surrendered himself to God’s will and took the beating and crucifixion that followed – for this reason he came to this hour.

When we stand with the shepherds of Bethlehem and the wise men from the East, looking with awe on Baby Jesus, God in the flesh, Saviour and Messiah, we may wonder why this miracle happened. The Bible answers our question – for this he came into the world: to purchase our salvation by suffering on the cross.

King David and the apostle Paul believed that God called them from their mother’s womb (Ps. 139:14-16, Gal. 1:15-17).

David was still a shepherd boy when the prophet Samuel anointed him to become king of Israel. He would first go through tough years as a fugitive before he would become king. As he later looked back on his life, he realized that each phase prepared him for the next one. For this, the kingship of Israel, he was born.

Paul was raised to become a Pharisee like his dad (Acts 23:6). He studied under Gamaliel, renowned teacher of Judaism in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3). He passed his exams with distinction (Gal. 1:14). When Paul met the glorified Christ near Damascus, he surrendered his life to him, including his knowledge of the Old Testament, which he now interpreted in a new light. He knew God had a plan for his life: his past was a preparation for the task of the present. For this, the proclaiming of the gospel, he was born.

Near the end of Paul’s life, he wrote a letter to his young friend Timothy, saying: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on him for everlasting life” (1 Tim. 1:15-16).

For this reason, Christ came: to save sinners. For this reason, Paul, the worst of sinners, was saved: to show how great God’s mercy in Christ is.

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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