But that isn't true. We know it's not. We are told every year that Jesus rose again. That His death was for us, that somehow he died for our sins.
I have gone to church almost my whole life. I have heard the message every year since I can remember. I have sung the same songs over and over. I have chosen to believe in Jesus, that he can save me from my sins. But it is so...hard...to...under...stand...how.
It seems like every time I try to understand the end I have to go back to the beginning. To get to Jesus' coming return, you have to get to why he left to begin with. To get to that, you have to understand why he came, and to get to that you have to read the Old Testament. Maybe not all of it, although I think that would help, but at least the beginning - how things began.
We have to go back to the garden and the snake and the woman who was deceived and the man who chose his wife over his creator. And why he had to choose at all.
It seems a little mean of God to plant a tree as a test. Why not just leave the tree out? There would have been nothing to tempt anyone, would there?
Well, I think there would have. I think it wasn't so much the tree that was the problem, but the ego. It wasn't that Adam and Eve were hungry for food. They had all the food they could ever want. Fresh, organic, non-GMO food in fact. For free. But they forgot something. The garden wasn't put there for them. They were put there for the garden.
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
Genesis 2:5-9, 15
So there was a reason for man to be on earth. To take care of it. To make sure there was enough food for all of the creatures God had made.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
By taking the fruit from the forbidden tree, man was saying that he was in charge, rather than God. He took his life upon himself. He decided that he could take better care of himself than God could, and he broke the contract of his job. So he was fired. He wanted to be independent, so God let him be. He was banished from the garden, and had to figure out how to feed himself without God's help. He had to figure out how to take care of the animals. But there was no way back.
God still talked to people. He didn't abandon them. All through the Bible there are people who were able to talk to God one on one. There were those who listened to him. But there were very few who would listen to them. Generation by generation people continued to try to get to that perfect place on their own. Striving and working to subdue the world which they should have had dominion over from the beginning, but lost because they wanted dominion over themselves.
So now we come to Jesus. How can the death of one man save the world? His death was terrible, but he was not the only person ever crucified. It was actually a pretty common punishment for the day. What was the difference?
First of all, Jesus was not just a man. He was Emmanuel, God With Us.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Can you imagine this? Because man would not bow down to the rule of God over his life, God came down and submitted Himself to the rule of man. He died a man's death on a man's torture device. He did something which no one would ever have had to do if man had submitted to God in the beginning.
Can you imagine? A life without sin? Without all those "bad people" who make us lock our doors and worry about the security of our credit cards? There would have been no reason for the Romans to invent a way to torture and kill criminals. There would have been no wars, because wars are always fought out of greed. There would have been enough of everything for everyone. This would have happened without all of the different forms of government that people have tried to come up with to replace the rule of God, their creator.
So Jesus died. He turned the world upside down. He rose again, victorious over the sin that is self-will and self-preservation and every other word that starts with self. Because he gave himself up.
So how does this save you and me?
It shows us that it is possible to give up our strive for self-_________ and to depend on God. It shows us that we can get off the merry-go-round that is our striving, get-all-we-can-get existence. There is a way back.
When we say "yes" to Jesus, we are accepting His rule over our lives. We are giving up our allegiance to this world. That is why he said to take His yoke. To lay our burdens down.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
So as we go toward Easter, remember where you came from. You are a citizen of God's world. Not the world that we have made, but the one He created in the beginning. You are not meant to have to try so hard. You can have Eden. But you have to give it up. Take off the self, and put on Christ.
Jesus died to save you. And me. Anyone who will come to Him. God came and did what no man would do. And because He did, we can be what we were meant to be in the beginning.