By Ernest O'Neill

Did Jesus Die So that God Could Forgive You?

By Rev. Ernest O'Neill

You and I have a tendency to think Jesus died so that God could forgive us. God had forgiven us long before Jesus died. God had forgiven us the very first moment he saw us straying from Him. What God did in Jesus was not simply to forgive us, but to take this old self of ours that will not obey Him and to destroy it in His Son. That's why the Bible says with the chastisement that he suffered we were made whole.

You know there's another verse, Isaiah 53:12, "Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many." We have a tendency to say, he bore my sins. I steal something. That's a sin. I steal something else. Those are two sins. So Jesus bore the punishment for those sins so that I wouldn't have to bear them. That's not the heart of it. The heart of it is the sin that produces those sins. The way you and I don't trust God. The way we trust ourselves. The way we want to make ourselves God. The way we want to stand up on our own hind legs and have everybody worship us. That's what Jesus bore on Calvary. He bore our sin. He bore us ourselves.

So really every one of us, loved ones, have a personal interest in this day because this is the first day of the worst week that the earth ever saw. We call it Holy Week. We call it Holy Week because it's the week in which the highest act of love was ever done. But really it was an unholy week. It was the week when the Son of God became the sewer for the sin of the world. It was the unholiest week that Jesus ever met. It was the week when he bore all of us in himself and destroyed us and remade us.

I don't know if you've ever thought of it, but when he came into Jerusalem on this day, this Palm Sunday, and all the crowd shouted, "Hosanna to the King" and threw palm branches in front of him, his own inner being had no trouble with that. His own inner being bowed down to God and said Lord, I know this is foolishness. I know I am no national king nor meant to be, nor will I have the victory that a national king would have. He had no trouble with that. Loved ones, you and I were inside him. Every wish that you have had for people to look up to you, every desire you have had to be acknowledged and respected, every desire you have had for people not to criticize you but to regard you as wonderful, every desire that you have ever had, was in Jesus and put upon him at that moment.

The most wretched selfish ambition of Napoleon, of Hitler, and of Nero rose up in our dear Savior's heart to grab the attention and grab the acknowledgment. The desire of every little cheerleader and every quarterback for attention and adulation, he felt inside his own heart at that moment. That's the strain he bore. When he bent that carnal nature of everybody that has ever lived in the universe under the sweetness of His own submissive love.