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Theology 101 — Reflections on Christ’s Coming

Jesus came to redeem sinners

Last week our reflections on the significance of Christ’s first coming emphasized that His mission during His life on earth was to reveal God. This week we note another aspect of His coming into the world: to redeem sinners.

When John the Baptist, the divinely ordained forerunner of God’s incarnate Son, presented Jesus to his generation, he did so by invoking the imagery of a lamb and declaring, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

The imagery of a sacrificial lamb evoked the Old Testament practice of priests offering lambs on the temple altar, sacrifices which God accepted as atonement for people’s sins.

The New Covenant arrangement Jesus introduced did not call for sinners to bring their sacrificial lambs as sin offerings. Rather, God provided His only begotten Son as the sacrifice. Hence, John accurately introduced Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” sent as the perfect, unrepeatable, once-for-all sacrifice for sin.

Consequences of sin

Sin separates people from God. Jesus died as a sacrificial Lamb to open once for all the way for repentant sinners to have an eternity with God, along with a life of fellowship with Him in the present. Through that redeeming death, sinners have the potential of having alienation from God replaced by acceptance into His family.

Sin brings condemnation. The most haunting and fearful words a person could ever hear would be God declaring, “Depart from Me; I never knew you” (Matt. 25:41). Since Christ came to redeem sinners, those who trust Him as Savior look forward to hearing God declare, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21).

Sin not only separates and brings condemnation; it also enslaves. The enslaved need to be set free. As Redeemer, Jesus sets repentant sinners free from sin’s condemnation. The moment of saving faith immediately frees sinners from sin’s penalty. Over time, He works in us by His indwelling Spirit to free us progressively from sin’s power. One day He will return and redeem us from sin’s presence by gathering us to Himself into the sinless perfections of heaven.

Of all the marvelous accomplishments of Jesus during His earthly ministry, not the least was His mission of redeeming sinners. That accomplishment was at the very core of why He came. Our reflections upon the first coming of Christ include the affirmation that Jesus came both to reveal God and redeem sinners.

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