Q: Why Did Jesus Come?

March 24, 2018

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the day we commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding–as the prophet foretold–on the back of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). The popularity Jesus enjoyed that day did not last long. Five short days perverted those exuberant cries of “Hosanna!” into the bloodthirsty shrieks of “Crucify him!”

Judas’ betrayal dogged his heels. Jesus was already making plans for his Last Supper. The lonely hour of Gethsemane, the trial by High Priest, Peter’s heart-wrenching denials, the beatings and mockings, trial by Pilot: all these were on the horizon–pulling him toward the inevitable cross where he would suffer divine punishment for the crushing weight of human sin in a bloody, agonizing death.

Jesus was fully conscious of the path before him. Even so, he busied himself with training his disciples, the lot of whom were still disturbed and confused about why Jesus kept talking about dying. In a symbolic gesture of the sin-purging he was about to accomplish, Jesus gathered his disciples for that last supper and began to wash their feet. The disciples were silent with bewilderment and embarrassment. Their King–their Lord–was stooping to such denigrating work. Peter alone voiced his disgust over this inversion of all that was proper. “YOU will never wash MY feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” (John 13 NLT).

And unless Jesus wash us, neither can we belong to Him.


In preparation for Resurrection Sunday, we’ve been answering the question, Who is Jesus? (See here and here) Today we’re going to answer the question, Why did Jesus come? We’ll find that answer in Hebrews 1:3.

Hebrews 1:1-3
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Q: Why did Jesus come? A: He came to provide “purification for sins.”


This purification language comes from the Mosaic law. For Israel to be in God’s presence, they needed to be purified from their sins. Another way to say this is that they needed to be washed clean of the impurity of sin. And it wasn’t just the people who needed this purification. The law of Moses required that nearly everything be cleansed with blood. (Hebrews 9:22) So Moses sprinkled animal blood on all the people and on the altar and on the priestly garments. He sprinkled it on the scrolls and on the tabernacle and on all the instruments used in the sacrifices. That sprinkled animal blood symbolically and externally cleansed Israel of their impurities so that they could be in God’s presence when he filled the temple with his glory on the Day of Atonement.

But what real power had the blood of bulls and goats to truly wash away their sins? None! These rituals foreshadowed a coming, better sacrifice. Following the law of Moses could keep Israel externally and symbolically clean, but doing so couldn’t begin to purge the impurities of their hearts.

So the eternal Son of God, the great creator and sustainer of all the ages, cast aside his divine privileges and welcomed instead the frail existence of humanity, taking the image of his own creatures. Jesus, eternally God and now forever human, became the sacrifice for our sins. And his blood–sprinkled on our hearts (Hebrews 10:22)–has done what animal blood could never do. It has purified us from within. It has washed our hearts clean.

“Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Jesus said.

Desperate to belong to Jesus, Peter plead, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord. Not just my feet!”

Today, sinners everywhere echo Peter’s desperation when they call on Jesus to wash their hearts and to make them his own. And Jesus is happy and fully able to do so! After all, this is why he came: to provide “purification for sins.”

 

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