Why Did Jesus Come?
by Pastor Gene
At Christmastime, perhaps more than at other times of the year, we think about Jesus coming into the world and why He came. So, why did Jesus come into the world? Careful! The answer you give to that question may say more about you than you think!
At the most fundamental level, Christ Jesus came to save sinners. He came to teach us about His Father. He came to warn us about a real place called Hell – a place of eternal, perpetual separation from God – and to offer us everlasting life in another place called Heaven – that place where God will dwell with His people and that is beautiful beyond all imagining.
Jesus came to reflect the Father’s love, to heal the sick and the lame, to restore sight to the blind – those physically blind and those spiritually blind. He came to challenge religious hypocrisy and to tell the truth about God. He challenged the religious leaders of His day to concern themselves more with mercy than with the tithing of their spices.
John 3:16 tells us that Jesus was the Father’s gift of love to the world, so that all who believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. So, we share gifts with those whom we love at Christmastime to memorialize this – the greatest Gift and the greatest Gift-giver.
A new believer would surely answer the ‘why-did-Jesus-come’ question with a hardy, ‘Jesus came to die for my sins’ – and he or she would certainly be right! Many passages of Holy Scripture communicate this truth. He died that we might live. He who was rich became poor that we, through His poverty, might become rich. He gave Himself for us, the Just for the unjust, the Righteous for the unrighteous. He laid down His life for His friends, and had the power to take it back up again. He left the Father to bring us to the Father. He died that we might live, and He rose from the dead so that we might never die. Yes, Jesus came to die for my sins.
But, as it turns out, Jesus dying for our sins – as glorious as that is – is only an ‘entry level’ understanding of the true meaning of Christmas. Saving us from Hell would seem to be a gift that could not possibly be improved upon – for, what could possibly be better than that? Well, leave it to Paul to tell us! In 2 Corinthians 15:5, He offers us a ‘graduate level’ answer to the ‘why-Jesus-came’ question. “He died for all,” Paul writes, “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.”
Yes, Jesus came into this world to save us, to take our place in judgement. And His is the only name given under heaven by which men must be saved. But there was more to the plan than mere salvation. He came to change those who would be saved. He came to change us into people who would no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for their sakes.
Responding with faith to John 3:16 makes me a saved man. Responding with faith to 2 Corinthians 15:5 makes me a disciple.
He Came to Change Sinners
Jesus didn’t merely come to save sinners; He came to change sinners.
Consider Matthew 16:24 & 25: “Then Jesus told his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
What does it mean to ‘lose’ our life? Well, it’s graduate-level stuff, friends. It means that “those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.”
Or think about Luke 14:27, which lays down an unassailable condition for true discipleship: “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” The cross, of course, was an instrument of death. Only one who’s come to it in the first place can take it up and follow Jesus. But, until we do – until we set the instrument of death upon our shoulders and begin walking after Jesus, we may be Christians, and we may be believers, but we’re not disciples.
After saying this, Jesus went on to talk about the importance of counting the cost. “For which of you,” He asked, “desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” So, what is the cost of discipleship? In a nutshell, it’s dying to self and living to Christ.
“I have been crucified with Christ,” Paul wrote, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Get it?
“Remember Lot’s Wife” – Jesus
The problem is, for many of us Christianity is more about keeping ourselves alive – prospering, achieving, advancing, and accumulating – than it is about ‘no longer living to self.’ And, in our quest to keep ourselves alive we lose ourselves in the soul-swallowing ether of the world.
We want to live as citizens of two kingdoms at the same time and enjoy the benefits of both. That was the sin of Lot’s wife. God had delivered her from what He judged as evil, but she never really wanted to leave. So, she disobeyed God and couldn’t help but look back after being warned not to. She wanted the deliverance that God offered, but she also along with all that the world offered.
God says the same thing to us, and He couldn’t have made it clearer: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
We can’t love Jesus and love the world at the same time, we just can’t. We can’t love God and love money at the same time. We will, Jesus promised, wind up despising one of them. I’m not a great fan of paraphrases, but I do like the way The New Living Translation presents 1 John 2:15-17:
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”
We want to live and serve two kingdoms, but God says, ‘Forget it. I won’t allow that. In fact, for you to desire what I gave My own Son to deliver you from is highly offensive to Me. And pursuing it will turn your spiritual life to a pillar of salt even as you stand!’
Jesus “died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.” Make no mistake about it, Satan loves to watch us struggle with this. For the longer we do, the longer our spiritual power and ability to affect others with the Gospel is neutralized. And the clock’s a-tickin’, time’s a-wastin’, and the devil’s a-smilin’.
And as believer after believer slips into eternity safe with God, the devil revels in his accomplishments and says with satisfaction, ‘Yes! There goes another one that might have mattered!’
Do you know what time it is, Christian? It’s time to wake up!
“Besides this you know the time,” Paul warned, “that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:11-14).
What is Paul describing here? He’s describing a believer who’s stopped living for himself and is now living for Him who died in his place. He’s describing a believer who’s become a disciple – who’s graduated from John 3:16 to 2 Corinthians 15:5. He’s describing the Christian who’s taken up his cross and is following Jesus down the road.
He’s describing someone who’s truly counted the cost and has judged even the tiniest crumb that might come from the Father’s hand to be of greater value than all that the world might offer combined!
- Why do you think Jesus came? How does 2 Corinthians 15:5 change your perspective on Christmas?
- How long have you been a believer?
Has the time been sufficient to have moved further than you have in genuine discipleship?
What has held you back from living for the one who died for you? What holds you back still?
- Consider 1 John 2:15-17 above. Think about each word.
What is God saying to you in this passage?
What is “the world” and why is God so adamant about you not loving it?
What are “the things it offers you?”
How is your response to the world and all it offers an indication of “the love of the Father in you?”
Why are the things listed in verse 16 “not from the Father?”
Contrast the world which is “fading away along with everything people crave” with what God promises in verse 17.
- You might take a similarly careful look at Matthew 16:24-25.
Here, Jesus gives three steps to following Him: (1) “Let him deny himself, (2) and take up his cross, (3) and follow me.”
Think about what each of these three things looks like to you in real time.
What does it mean to lose our life for Jesus’ sake?
What does that look like to you? And what does it mean to “find it” (Hint: think Galatians 2:20 – ‘crucified, but alive’).
Remember, the context here is not salvation, but becoming a disciple.
- How does your life as a follower of Jesus look in the light of Luke 14:27: “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple”?
- Do you find yourself looking back to the things that God has judged in your life, as Lot’s wife did?
- Are you trying to live in two kingdoms at the same time?
How is that working out for you?
Is there something you need to speak with Jesus about?
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