The Gospel in Human Form

KEY VERSE: “He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things.” —Mark 8:31


THIS was a difficult statement for the disciples to understand.

Jesus had just asked them whom men said that he was. They replied that there were different opinions—some said John the Baptist, some Elias, and others believed he was one of the prophets; but no one seemed to believe he was the Messiah. Knowing that it was important for the disciples to understand this fact, he then queried them: “Whom say ye that I am?” Peter was quick to give him the answer he wanted to hear: “Thou art the Christ.”—vs. 28

The people in general, even though recognizing Jesus’ remarkable abilities, and appreciating his honor and respect for God, were, however, unable to see in his life that which they expected of the looked-for Messiah. This was also true of his close disciples, but their great faith in him as a person overshadowed this seeming incongruity, and they were willing to believe his word on the matter.

But it still seemed strange that when they made their assertion that he was the Christ, he charged them that they should tell no man, and then to teach them that he as the Messiah, in the form of man, must suffer, be rejected, and put to death. The Jews, and afterward the Christian world have never fully understood the need for Jesus’ suffering and death.

The tendency today is to depart from this scriptural concept of atonement for sin. Modem human wisdom takes the position that a loving God would not demand a blood sacrifice for sin. It is claimed that such a thought is revolting to enlightened thinkers.

The rejection of this scriptural philosophy of atonement for sin is, in effect, a denial of the great foundation truths of the Bible. A companion unbelief also held by these is that the Genesis account of creation is merely an allegory, that man is not a direct creation of God and in the divine image.

The Apostle Paul, however, puts the first advent work of our Lord in true perspective with this statement: “We see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”—Heb. 2:6-9

Here we have two important thoughts brought to our attention. One is that the atoning work of Jesus is designed by God to make possible the restoration of man to his lost home and dominion here on earth. The other great truth is that in order to accomplish this divine purpose of his visit to earth, it was essential that Jesus taste death for every man.

The redemption furnished by Jesus Christ provides for a release from the penalty of death inflicted upon the human race because of sin. Unless, therefore, we properly understand the nature of the penalty, it would be impossible to grasp clearly the scriptural doctrine of atonement.

Just as the punishment for sin which was imposed upon Adam (and through him upon his children) was death, so Jesus must die in order to set that judgment aside. He could not redeem man by the good example of his life, nor could he do it by showing us how to die for a good cause. The intrinsic value of Jesus’ faithful ministry was in the fact that he “poured out his soul unto death: and … was numbered with the transgressors; and … bare the sin of many.”—Isa. 53:12

Other statements concerning the basis of Jesus’ atoning work are: “He was cut off out of the land of the living.” He was led “as a lamb to the slaughter.” “Thou shalt make his soul [living being] an offering for sin.”—Isa. 53:7,8,10

The Bible clearly teaches that God’s plan of salvation for the human race is based upon the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is a fundamental doctrine of the Bible that no one can be saved from sin and its penalty, death, except through the sacrifice of Jesus as the Redeemer and Savior of the world. One of the most simple statements on this question is found in John 3:16. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.”

The earthly work of Jesus involved much suffering, which he voluntarily endured. But his Heavenly Father suffered also. The work of atonement was costly to him even as it was to his Son; and on the part of both it was an expression of divine love.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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