Matthew 19:23-26 “And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.””
It is common for Christians to make “all things” mean “whatever I want God to do for me.” What many people miss out on here is a much greater and stunning truth. With man salvation itself is impossible, and can only be granted as a gift from God.
Jeremiah 13:23 “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” How can a man whose nature is fallen and corrupt, who hates the true God in his heart and has a strong appetite for sin, suddenly change his own heart and mind to love God, forsake sinful ways, and pursue righteousness? Man can simply not do that which contradicts his entire nature, simply stated man cannot make himself a follower or lover of God above all else. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
C.J. Mahaney explains our dire predicament and need for divine rescue in his book “Christ our Mediator.”
“The debt and obligation and responsibility (for sin) is mankind’s alone. Neither you nor I, however, can atone for our sin to satisfy God’s righteous requirements; our own disobedience already condemns us before a righteous God. Furthermore, we’re captive to sin; it’s humanly impossible for us to release ourselves from its grip…
That’s our condition- having no possible way to atone for our sin, nor any possible way to free ourselves from enslavement to it.
A divine rescue is necessary. We need a savior!”
God’s Rescue Mission
Romans 5:7-10 “For while we were still weak at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”
When did Jesus lay down his life for us? When we had proven ourselves worthy? When we finally pulled our act together? No, rather look at the text: while we were weak, ungodly, still sinners and enemies, Christ died for us. Let me try my best to paint a picture of this for you, and stay as close to scripture as I am capable of.
Jesus Looking Loved Us
Looking down He saw this earth
Where once was bright as dawn
Where a man from dust was pure at birth
Created to dwell upon
This perfect garden in the east
With God dwelling, and for a feast
The fruit of every tree but one
For by its’ knowledge comes undone
Both innocence and unity with God.
Looking down He watched them take
One crushing bite with all at stake
“Why would you die oh Adam and Eve?
And bring this curse, now you must leave
This garden where I gave you all-
Your life, your needs, your wife, my breath
Why did you incur this death?
Now from glory all will fall,”
Yet even here His mercy shows
To hide their shame He makes them clothes.
Then looking down for years to come
The voice of blood is crying from
Those doomed to lie in cursed ground
And with it mingled is the sound
Of mothers weeping, men blaspheming
Adultery and pride
Man bowing down to golden gods
In whom he can’t confide.
He looked down on this wretched sight
Did the earth not wither in dismay?
For this was creation’s plight:
Futility and bondage to decay.
Yet He who cursed earth gave also desire
And through its groaning and shame
Was a cry “Bring forth Your Sons and Daughters
The great inheritance of Your Name!”
Looking down he chose a race
Who turned their back but not their face
To Him, and they who played the whore
Loved to wander yet He swore
By oath, because they were the least
That one day He would be Israel’s peace
And take away their heart of stone
So they would worship Him alone
Not for their own sake, but for this
That He would vindicate His holiness.
Looking through the course of time
He saw me wallow in my grime
With both fists raised to God above
Don’t dare say I deserved His love.
Looking down He saw you too
Whether Gentile or Jew
All had sinned and broke His heart
He had all rights to say “Depart.”
How we all evoked His rage
And surely we had earned our wage:
Eternal death for all our sin
How could we ever enter in
To this impossible Heaven?
Then looking down He saw these same
Sinners who had cursed His name
Thinking themselves high and mighty
But Jesus Christ perceived them rightly.
Helpless, abused, scattered.
They all wander blindly
With hearts dead and shattered.
Sheep without a single shepherd
Lost with none to bring them home
While wolves attack and leave them battered
On the road to destruction bound to roam.
And Jesus looking loved them
With a tenderness in His eyes
So much that He came down to join them
So much that He came here to die.
“Oh lost sheep of Israel!
Oh cut off Gentile soul!
I have come here to call you!
I am coming to make you my own.”
Jesus looking out saw them
Hurling insults and stones
Crying out “Crucify Him!”
Forsaking Him all to His own.
Jesus looking out crying
“Father forgive them please!
They don’t know what they are doing
For this crime too I will bleed.”
Jesus looking out dying
Bearing God’s wrath and all man’s strife
And here I can picture Him saying
“The good shepherd lays down his life
For the sheep…No one takes it from me
For them I will lay it down willingly.”
Jesus closed his eyes loving us
While we were yet sinners Christ died
When we were His enemies He chose us
God on our behalf crucified.
While we were weak
At just the right time
We were brought back to God
By the death of His Son
Justified by blood and saved from wrath
My soul He has won
Heaven mine, it is done.
In this poem, I hope to have made it clear that God initiated and executed His plan to make entrance into Heaven possible for us, not when we had proved our worth, but rather when we were utterly unworthy, enemies, and filled with all manner of unrighteousness. It was then that He looked and loved us. It was then that He chose to die for us. We bring no merit to the cross of Christ, and play no contributing factor in it, other than that “it was our sin that held Him there until it was accomplished.”
Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.”
In Love, He Chose To Die For Us
I hope it is clear that God sent forth His son to die out of love and not obligation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).” Out of the overflow of His mercy and kind intention He chose me. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight (Ephesians 1:7-8).”
Some people think of the cross as an unfortunate thing that happened to Jesus, but my friends it is much more than that. “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).” Do you understand that He set His face in determination to go to a place where He was fully aware death and innumerable sorrows awaited Him? Jesus Christ foretold His own death again and again: “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day (Matthew 20:18-19).” Why would the Son of God walk willingly into such a horrifying death? The Word of God gives incredible insight.
Hebrews 12:2 “Jesus…the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Isaiah 53:10-11 “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him (Jesus); he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities!”
There was a joy set before Him on the cross; there was a glorious outcome to gaze upon even out of the anguish of His soul! He was ransoming a people for God! He was bearing their iniquities, and He would make them to be accounted as righteous! He was executing a plan to bring those near to Him which He chose and interceded for before “the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4)!” He “poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12)” willingly and with a deeper passion than we could ever muster because He loved sinners, because He wanted them for His own. Doesn’t this shock you? Doesn’t it bring tears to your eyes? It does for me. How He deserves our love and our lives!
Revelation 5:9 “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
This is the gospel: In love He carried our sin, shame, guilt and condemnation with Him to the cross. “For our sake He (The Father) made Him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2Corinthians 5:21).” When He died on the cross He gave Himself as an offering for sin; He became the lamb who was slain. Where God should have punished sinners for their trespasses, He instead poured that same wrath out on His beloved Son Jesus Christ. When Jesus died, He said “it is finished” as if to say “paid in full.” On the third day “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it (Acts 2:24).” God accepted His death as the payment for sin, and rose up Jesus Christ on high to reign at His right hand for all eternity. How does Jesus make entrance into his Kingdom possible for us? He pays the price for our entrance in His own life’s blood.