Now if that doesn’t get you feeling all warm and fuzzy this morning, meh, I don’t know what will. I almost sprouted a goose-bump. Apparently, this Christmas morning we can rejoice, for “we are the reason”! I don’t know about you, but to me, I find that just a bit self-centered. It really does beg a question…
Why did Jesus die for you, Christian? Is it because you were worth dying for? Is it a fact that Jesus dying on a cross for your sins declares your value to God? As we think about these questions, let’s ponder what prompts them. Sometimes, and probably with good intentions, it is asserted to congregations across America that they should not fret because when Jesus died on the cross it was saying that they were worth that much to God, in fact, that we were the reason. They are told that their value to God is so much that he would send his only son to die for there sins, so that they could have a personal relationship with him, should they decide to do so. It sounds good, and it’s a real self-esteem booster. I mean think about it, the Creator of the world thinks I’m to-die-for! But do we attend church to have our self-worth increased? Didn’t a certain character of the scriptures utter the words “he must increase, but I must decrease”? This is what I want to explore in this post.
As a side note before we dig into the word: I am not posting this to destroy your self esteem. My goal is for you to see Christ as your supreme treasure and worth, laying down his life for his sheep, not necessarily because of the worth of the sheep, but for spread of his Glory. Besides, I don’t think you should be esteeming yourself in the first place. Esteem that which is esteem-able, God, then be in awe of His great love for us.
- To say that Jesus died because we are worth dying for is to make God an idolater. This may hit as strong, offensive words, and they should, for it is an utterly heinous offense to suggest that a sinner could be of equal or more value than the son of God. If Jesus is God (John 1:1, Col 2:9), and God is supremely glorious, then to assign His worth beneath, or less than anyone else’s is idolatry, even for God himself. God seeks his own glory above everything else, for this is the most loving thing he can do for his beloved creatures. John Piper, in his book Desiring God, puts it like this, “He would deny the infinite worth of His own glory. He would imply that there is something more valuable outside Himself. He would commit idolatry.” God cannot assign his worth and his glory to something less than himself. It would make his word untrue. “I am the Lord; that is my name, my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8) “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:11) Ephesians 1:5-6 clearly states that we are saved according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which brings me to my next point.
- To say that Jesus died because we are worth dying for is to rob the Gospel of any and all grace. The bible makes it clear from cover to cover that we are wretched sinners and that it is by grace we have been saved. Isn’t saying that we were worth dying for the same as saying that we deserved salvation. Romans 5 tells us that we were still sinners when Christ died for us, while we were enemies of God. We know that sinners deserve wrath, for we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. There was nothing lovely in us, yet he looked upon our pitiful state, had mercy on us, and overcame our sinful rebellion and resistance, granting us repentance from our sinful inclinations! Praise be to the Holy One of Israel! To say that we were worth it is to say that it was owed to us, and God Almighty is in debt to no one.
- There is no scriptural basis for making such a statement. None. There are plenty of scriptures that show us that God loves us (Eph. 2:4, Eph. 5:2, Psalm 36:7, Titus 3:4), has mercy on us (Eph. 2:4, Psalm 23:6, Mat. 9:13, 1 Pet. 1:3), and cares for us (Zech. 10:3, Psalm 8:4, 1 Pet. 5:7). I haven’t seen a single scripture that suggests that we deserve any of it.
Don’t take me wrong in all of this, what I’m telling you is not bad news. It is amazingly GOOD NEWS! God saves wretched, undeserving enemies of God: because he wants too! In fact, He has designed it such that this is the way He will receive praise for all eternity. This is jaw-dropping good news! The cross was the ransom paid for your life, not because your life was worth it, but for his glory, according to his purpose, to praise of his glorious grace, and for your joy! We have a reason to rejoice, and that reason is Jesus.