The Bible’s Answer
The Road to the Cross
Towards the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, when he knew his death was near, he said the following words:
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgement of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” (John 12:27-33)
Jesus made it clear that his purpose for leaving heaven and entering the world in the flesh was so that he could die, and by making reference to himself being lifted up from the earth, he was talking about death on a cross. The judgement of the world was the judgement that would soon be pronounced upon him by Pilate and the Jews—an innocent man sentenced to death by crucifixion for simply teaching the Father’s word.
Jesus Came to Save Us
Further on in the passage, Jesus explains why he came to die on the cross:
“And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12:44-50)
The reason why Jesus came to die on the cross was not to judge the world, but rather to save it. Both the message and mission that God the Father entrusted Jesus with to preach and carry out was that of eternal life—the salvation that only Jesus can give to everyone who believes in him, because of his death on the cross. Somehow, this death would bring life to all who believe.
How Jesus Made Salvation for Humanity Possible
We live in a world full of darkness. Everyone is born with sinful darkness in them (Psalm 51:5), which refers to spiritual blindness and disregard towards God, and we all deserve eternal punishment in hell because we have sinned against him (Romans 3:23; Matthew 25:46). However, Jesus came as Light, who shines in the darkness, so that those who are led by the Holy Spirit may see and believe that the infinite penalty which was once upon us has already been paid fully.
It was paid by Jesus, our sinless high priest (Hebrews 4:15), who took our punishment as our substitute on the cross, making amends for all the sins and wrongdoings we’ve ever committed, and ever will commit (1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 1:7), and who rose again from the dead bodily on the third day, conquering sin and death once and for all (Romans 8:34). There is nothing that we can do to save ourselves or keep our salvation. We are saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9).
How Jesus’ Death Was Actually His Victory
Jesus’ death on the cross may be seen by many as a weakness, yet it was by this death that he cast out the ruler of this world, Satan, overthrowing the power that the devil once had over us (John 12:31; Hebrews 2:14). It was by this very death that Jesus drew and continues to draw all people around the world to himself, so that we might believe and have life in his name (John 12:32). It is because of this death that we can be set free from the darkness and guilt that once blinded, condemned, and kept us down (John 12:46). Because Jesus died for us, we can live to love and be loved by the true and living Triune God (John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 3:16), and have a relationship with him that not only lasts for this entire lifetime, but also for the eternal life that is to come for all who trust in Jesus as Saviour, and have the Holy Spirit living within them (1 John 5:10-12).
The Cost of Rejecting Jesus
If we reject Jesus and what he has done for us, thereby refusing the payment for sins that he made on our behalf, then we will be judged according to the word he preached on the day of judgement (John 12:48). The word he preached was eternal life (John 12:49-50), and all who reject this show that they are not worthy of it, and so condemn themselves eternally (John 3:18). They will remain in the very darkness that Jesus himself, the light of the world, offered to take them out of. Jesus didn’t come to condemn and judge you; he came to save you, because he loves you (Romans 5:6-8; Galatians 2:20). So if you aren’t yet a Christian, why not take the time now to seriously consider accepting him as your personal Lord and Saviour and become his disciple? You may find it will be the best decision of your life.