“How is Jesus the rescuing act of God?” is a question to which we each need a concrete answer. God’s rescuing act of humanity through the improbable possibility of Jesus Christ – God in human form; a virgin impregnated and birthing a child – is but a part of this work. The life of Christ is completely alien in purpose without the death of Christ. The cradle is pointless without the cross. Chromatius of Aquileia, a 5th century Bishop, writes, “Though Jesus was merely a whimpering infant… [The magi] perceived one thing with the eyes of their bodies but another with the eyes of their minds. The lowliness of the body he assumed was discerned, but the glory of his divinity is now made manifest… A cradle the world cannot hold.”
Because Jesus descended from heaven and was placed (as it were) into the womb of Mary He was born, then, of a virgin (being that Joseph and Mary didn’t have sexual relations). As such, He was without the nature of depravity that plagues all humanity. Without this nature of corruption, Jesus lived life perfectly, fulfilling all of God’s requirements for humanity. In perfection Jesus was able and equipped to carry all of humanity’s depravity (though, without containing it Himself) onto His cross, thereby making Himself a sacrificial substitution (in the Old Testament sense). Completely and utterly God, yet completely and wholly human is the way (the only way) that one – namely, Jesus – could pull this off.
This sacrificial death on the cross – one life for all lives, one perfect human for all imperfect humans – is the redemption that humanity needed so badly. It is through the perfect death of the perfect Christ that all humanity is redeemed. There was a debt owed by humanity to God; a debt that humanity could not pay. As a result of the inability to pay, the penalty was alienation from God for all humanity. Thus, Jesus came – descending from heaven, born of a virgin – to free humanity from the debt and the penalty, on the cross of Christ. That day Christ took upon Himself the debt of and the penalty owed to all humanity. And He satisfied God, on behalf of humanity, to the point of death.
But, humanity being redeemed is but half of the dilemma. Now, in Christ’s death, humanity is no longer in debt nor under the penalty of the debt. But humanity is still not reconciled to God. Is it possible that redemption without reconciliation is a worse situation? If Christ is rotted, laid still in the earth, then not only are we still cruelly separated from God, but neither is Jesus who we claim; neither is He who He claimed – God incarnate.
However, on that Sunday morning all those years ago, the flip side of the same coin landed. Jesus Christ rose in Resurrection Life! Not only that but, He ascended back to heaven; thus, bringing reconciliation for humanity – reconciliation with God, one another, and self. He died for our redemption and was resurrected for our reconciliation. In the Resurrection Life of Christ God offers life for living throughout humanity. Understand this: In the death of Christ all humanity has died (whether we know it or not). In the resurrection of Christ all who believe live in the Resurrection Life of Christ (whether we know it or not). If we do not believe on the death of Christ, obviously then, we do not live in Resurrection Life, and are simply a rotting corpse crucified with Christ 2,000 years ago (whether we know it or not). Though redeemed, not reconciled; if not reconciled, then not redeemed. The sacrificial suicide is, then, yours to keep.