Since the Garden of Eden, humans have had a sin problem, and from the beginning of time, God determined to send His Son into the world to die for the sins of all humankind. That’s what our text is about this week — the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross of Calvary.
In this text, we see Jesus doing what He came to this earth to do — die for our sins. Jesus’ death on the cross paid the price for our sins.
Most companies have a mission statement. You may see this statement placed in a prominent place in their building. The purpose is to remind all employees why the company exists.
Years ago, when I was a pastor in Mississippi, I would attend the Mississippi Baptist Convention annual meeting hosted by First Baptist Church, Jackson. Everyone riding the elevator in the church was greeted with two plaques that represented the mission of the church: Love God and Love Others.
Every time people got on the elevator, they were reminded of their mission and purpose.
Jesus had one mission. In Luke 19:10 Jesus said, “… for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” His purpose for leaving heaven and coming to earth was to die for the sins of humankind. Jesus was crucified along with two criminals. From the cross Jesus called on the Father to forgive the people present since they did not understand what they were doing.
There are many things a church can do, but the most important thing any church does is share the love of Christ with others.
A purpose statement is useful; accomplishing our purpose can be a challenge. In accomplishing His purpose, Jesus was mocked. He was hung on the cross while the crowd, religious leaders and soldiers mocked Him. Eventually, one of the criminals joined the mocking as well.
We live in a world that mocks Christ. Even though many ridicule Jesus, our task remains the same. We share the love of Christ even though we may be mocked.
Jesus was crucified between two criminals. One of them mocked Jesus while the other rebuked that criminal and trusted Christ. Jesus promised the second criminal that he would accompany Him into paradise that day.
Jesus hung on the cross for six hours. During that time, in the middle of the day, the sky became dark and the earth shook. The curtain of the sanctuary split as Jesus entrusted His Spirit into the hands of the Father.
These events are critical and demand our understanding. A curtain stood between the temple proper and the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was. Only the high priest could go past the curtain, and he could only do it once a year. But when Jesus gave up His Spirit, the veil was split from top to bottom, symbolizing the fact that Jesus’ death on the cross had given humans access to God. In doing so, Jesus made possible what is known as the substitutionary atonement for our sins. The word “atonement” means our sins are covered. Jesus’ blood covered our sins.
That is why Jesus came to this earth — to make salvation possible for all humankind. He makes salvation possible for us and for others as we share the gospel.
By Gregg Potts, D. Min.
Potts served as a pastor for more than 30 years in Mississippi and Georgia.