by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 1 Corinthians 5:21 NASB
Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to die on the cross?
An old photograph of our son covered in mud documents the special affinity my toddler had with puddles. Of course, the caked dirt didn’t change my love for Brant. But it did affect how I treated him. He wasn’t allowed to roam the house while muddy. I held him at arm’s length when I carried him to a tub of running water. After he was clean, we snuggled close, and he gained free access to the house again.
Who benefited from my child’s bath? Bathing him was work for me, but it was also joy. Removing his grime restored the pleasure of cuddling together.
Some people avoid God when they mess up. They think He doesn’t want to see them. But Jesus died to remove the stench of sin that separated us from Him. He wants to share life now and throughout eternity.
Before sin entered the world, there was no need for sacrifices. After sin, animal sacrifices provided a temporary remedy so people could enjoy closeness with God. From the skin garments God made for Adam and Eve to the blood sacrifices required in Mosaic Law, blood was God’s provision for removing guilt and restoring fellowship with Him (Leviticus 17:11). “In fact, …without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).
Like bathing with body wash, the effectiveness of animal sacrifices was temporary. These Old Testament sacrifices pointed to the future sacrifice of God’s perfect Lamb, who would become sin on our behalf.
- “With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever” (Hebrews 9:12 NLT).
- “Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins” (Hebrews 9:14 NLT).
- “But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice” (Hebrews 9:26 NLT).
From the Garden to the cross, those benefiting from an offered sacrifice increased. Abel offered one lamb for himself. At the Passover, one lamb was offered for a family. The Day of Atonement included offering one lamb for a nation. But at the cross, Jesus, the spotless lamb, was offered for the sins of the world.
When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) many in his Jewish audience understood. This was the long awaited One first promised to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:15).
While we look back in history to the cross, Old Testament sacrifices pointed to His coming. Faith in God’s promised One is the basis for righteousness for both Old and New Testament believers. When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin, we gain nothing less than God’s eternal approval.
Based on an excerpt from Little Faith, Big God © 2020, Debbie W. Wilson
 John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Hebrews (Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute, 1983), 301.
About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.
Join the conversation: What does Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross mean to you?