Why did Jesus sacrifice himself? At first blush, this is an easy one for those of us who believe Jesus is the Son of God and know that he died “for our sin”...but what does that mean? “Jesus died for our sins.” I’ve spent most of my life believing Jesus died and rose from the grave to cover my sin so God could tolerate a wretch like me. In essence, I have often seen Jesus as the cosmic problem-solver. The problem: we are full of sin and disgusting to a perfect God. The solution: God incarnate must come to Earth, sacrifice himself, and conquer death so we sinners can go to heaven when we die--if we accept him into our hearts.
Recently, another thought has surfaced for me: What if we are not sinners desperately trying to become saints? What if instead, God sees his children as saints who sin? There is a big difference. If God loves us more than he hates sin, then Jesus came to sacrifice himself because of our great value to God--even while we were yet sinners. Otherwise, the only reason Jesus would die and rise again is that God hates sin so much he must eradicate it in the only and just way...and we are the collateral by product.
This Easter, I hope we can come together around the idea that God’s love outweighs his hatred of sin. I wonder how it would shape a community of believers if they were sold out to the reality that the Good News is God saw great value in them before Jesus’ sacrifice--that God became man and gave himself up because we were already precious to him. A perfect God cannot abide sin, however, our loving God prioritizes his great love for us over his intolerance of sin.