Why Did Jesus Leave Heaven for Earth?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory . . .” (John 1:1, 14).

“. . . although He existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7).

That the Son of God became Son of Man has to be one of the most astounding historical events of all time.

Even more amazing is that He was willing to do it! Never before or since has anyone undergone such an austere demotion.

But why?

Why would He voluntarily give up the glories of heaven for the hardships of earth, knowing how dearly it would cost Him? The author of the book of Hebrews explains:

First, since those He would come to save “share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:14-15).

In other words, in heaven Jesus was immortal. Since His death would be the price of our redemption, He had to take on a body capable of dying.

Second, “He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:17-18).

Finding our place in His plan

God sent His Son not only to rescue us from our sins, but also that we would “become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).

He became like us so we could become like Him.

Will wonders never cease!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Spared from Death

Connections

Two incidents, one from the Old Testament and one from the New, point in the same direction.

The first occurred when God instructed Israel to take the blood of a lamb and put it on their doorposts.

“The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:13).

Many centuries later John the apostle described what he witnessed at the cross. “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe” (John 19:34-35).

God witnessed the blood of a lamb on the door. John witnessed the blood of “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Comparisons and contrasts

The blood of the Passover lamb spared the Israelites from physical death. We are spared a doom far worse than the death if we apply the blood of “Christ our Passover” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

The first blood pointed to the second. The lesser was a sign of the greater.

In homes without the blood, there was death. In hearts without the blood of Christ, there is spiritual death.

For Israel, applying the blood was an act of faith and obedience. We too exercise faith and obedience when the blood of Christ cleanses us in baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12-13).

God made a way for Israel to be spared that awful night when death came calling.

God has made a way for us to be spared on the awesome Day when His wrath is poured out on the disobedient.

It’s the blood that makes the difference.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Castoffs

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

In my parents’ backyard was a small white frame building my dad called his tool house. It was equipped with a workbench about 8 feet long, with scrap lumber stored underneath. Plenty of shelving held old cans of paint and miscellaneous hardware collected through the years, along with nails, screws, etc. stored in coffee cans.

I recall my dad saying, “I like to take junk and turn it into something useful.”

What Jesus loved to do

During Jesus’ ministry He was denounced for spending time with people the Pharisees had no use for. He earned a reputation as “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 7:34). This was meant as a criticism, but aren’t we thankful He is?

Many consider the story of the Prodigal Son His greatest parable. He told it in response to the complaint, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).

On another occasion Jesus explained why He spent so much time with people like this: “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).

When He went to the home of Zacchaeus the tax collector, again His critics grumbled, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

Jesus replied, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

The Master Carpenter

Jesus delighted in taking castoffs and transforming them into something beautiful, as well as useful.

He did it then.

He’s still doing it.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Freedom!

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Convicted!

“Warning: Hitchhikers may be escaping inmates.” So said the orange sign we passed on an Oklahoma highway.

Hearing about someone who lived next door to the Huntsville prison, a teenager commented, “I wouldn’t want to live next to a prison.” His dad replied, “Better next to than in.”

Some years ago several of us visited the Gurney Unit near Tennessee Colony, Texas. Overlooking the locked gate, the guard kept watch. At the base of the tall enclosure were long coils of razor wire, making escape next to impossible.

Even if an inmate could somehow slip past the guards and over the top, he must always be looking over his shoulder. Out of prison, he can never truly relax as a free man. Really, he isn’t. Legally, he is still a prisoner.

Acquitted!

While we may or may not have done anything that would land us in jail, we have all done things that condemn us to hell (Romans 3:23; 6:23; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8). It’s true, so we might as well admit it.

The worst prison on earth can’t compare with the horrors of an eternal hell. Let’s do everything required of us to escape the sentence that will surely be ours if we don’t get right with God. He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Though innocent, Jesus was willing to die as a convicted criminal in the most horrible fashion. Because He died in our place, God offers each of us a pardon we surely do not deserve.

It is a pardon that allows us to walk out of our cell on death row, through the gates of sin’s prison, and out into the fresh air and blue skies of freedom! God wipes our record clean.

Nothing we’ve done will ever be held against us. He offers us a fresh start, a new beginning. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Released!

Have you taken the steps to obtain the freedom He so much wants to give you? (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37-38; 22:16).

Why stay locked up when freedom is so available?

Using a similar analogy of the slavery of sin vs. the glorious freedom He offers, Jesus promised, “. . . everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin . . . . So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34, 36).

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Salvation Options?

I heard once about a man who was quite intelligent and highly educated, and yet when he tried to add oil to his car engine, he poured it down the narrow dipstick tube. Well, that’s one way of getting the job done!

Multiple approaches

With some tasks, however, there may be several satisfactory methods. If we need to send a communication to someone, we can use email, fax, telephone, texting, or an old-fashioned letter. The message is the same, regardless of how it’s conveyed.

And then there are wedding options. Whether a big church wedding, a private ceremony at home, or being wed by a justice of the peace, you’re just as married in any case. There are advantages and disadvantages to each arrangement, but still, one can choose.

We are conditioned to multiple options in almost every department of life—from menus to makes of cars to brands of detergent.

Wouldn’t our ancestors be astonished if they could see the almost unlimited choices available to us?

Many avenues?

In regard to salvation, are there many roads to heaven? Does the Bible teach that?

Christ “became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). But what if we disobey? See 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The Bible says there is only one gospel, only one faith, only one Savior, only one way to be saved, and only one road that leads to life (Galatians 1:6-9; Ephesians 4:4-6; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Matthew 7:13-14).

So what’s our choice? Take it or leave it.

If God offers us one and only one way to be saved, and He does, should any of us have a problem with that?

After all, isn’t that far more than we deserve?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Two Ways to Understand What It Means to be Saved

In most cases the New Testament uses the words “save” and “salvation” to refer to deliverance from sin (Matthew 1:21; Mark 16:16; Luke 19:10; Ephesians 2:8; 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Peter 3:21).

But we also find a number of uses of the same words in reference to deliverance from physical calamities.

Rescue from danger

Today we speak of someone being saved from a fire, from drowning, etc. Note these biblical uses:

The panicking disciples woke Jesus during the storm they thought was about to sink their boat: “Save us, Lord; we are perishing” (Matthew 8:25).

Luke records that during another storm on another sea, “all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned” (Acts 27:20; see verse 31). But by God’s mercy, everyone made it safely to shore.

Cure from a bodily affliction

“Whenever He [Jesus] entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured” (Mark 6:56). The word translated “cured” is the same usually translated “saved.”

What this teaches us

These two non-religious uses of “saved“ help us understand that when Christ saves us from our sins, we are being rescued from a danger far worse than the threat of bodily death. We are also healed of a soul sickness that unless treated would result in our spiritual death forever in hell.

“Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound! /That saved a wretch like me! /I once was lost, but now I’m found /Was blind, but now I see” (John Newton).

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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In Exchange

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One day I accidentally dropped a large paper clip into the crack between the seat cushion and the back of the couch in our den. In trying to retrieve it I pulled out a ballpoint pen, then another, and then another. I never did find my paper clip.

Not a bad trade-off—three pens for one paper clip! Maybe I should drop another paper clip down the crack.

Loss is bearable if we get something better in return. In everyday life we are perfectly willing to exchange our hard-earned dollars for something we really need or want, especially if it’s a real bargain.

Jesus’ offer

Jesus said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). He had just said that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (verse 24; see Galatians 2:20; 5:24; 6:14).

We must give up ourselves (our own desires and comfortable, familiar ways of thinking and living) and instead let Christ determine our values and goals.

We let Him own us completely instead of our trying to direct our own little world.

In exchange, He promises us life that is life indeed (John 10:10). But if we’re not willing to let go of ourselves, then we’re the ultimate losers.

Our response?

If we should trust Jesus enough to do as He directs, will we be disappointed in the long run? Does Jesus offer what He can’t deliver? Can He be trusted?

The Rich Young Ruler was unwilling to make the trade—and he was sad (Matthew 19:16-22). Paul was willing—and he was glad (Philippians 3:4-14).

Are we willing to stake everything we’ve got on the conviction that His way is best for us—and that someday we will be glad we took Him up on it?

Ever so glad!

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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