We have a Friend in heaven!

THE MAN JESUS DIED FOR HIS FRIENDS (Jn.15: 13).

Jesus, did He die as a man or as a god? This question has caused endless speculation. There are some hints that have given satisfactions to Christians that believe both: the human and the divine were involved. The very nature of the divine has led to some skepticism. God cannot and does not die. He is Spirit and spirit is not flesh or blood, nor subject to decay. Also, it is the flesh and not the spirit that is weak and falls into temptations and commits sin. God has done nothing wrong that would require an atonement or sacrifice. Man has sinned and the man Jesus died for His friends (Jn.15:13). He, too, required a little help from heaven during His darkest hour. An angel was sent to strengthen Him (Lk.22:43).

Jesus wrestled with death like all of us. He did not look forward to dying. He begged His Heavenly Father to take the cup of suffering from Him. Death itself, if it is instant, is not as frightening as the pain that leads up to dying. There was sadness in His heart when He told His disciples that His enemies were plotting His demise and that He had to face it alone (Jn.12:27). The hardest was that He would suffer at the hands of those that shall sentence Him to death (Mk.8:31). Jesus’ torturers would flog Him, mock Him and spit on Him (Mk.10: 34). Then, they would let Him die in shame on a cross. It was the way the worst criminals were killed and Jesus was regarded as one of the worst, because He had violated their law, promised to destroy their Temple and pretended to be like God. Jesus proved them wrong by dying as a human being. The proof was when the blood had turned into water when they pierced His side (Jn.19:34). Heavenly beings do not bleed.

Redemption is based on the shedding of blood (Heb.9:22). A just human had to take on the sins of others and pay for them (II Cor.5:21). Only a human can bleed for another human and assume his guilt. That is why costly animal sacrifices could never fully atone for human transgressions. Nevertheless, they were a replacement for some religions that demanded human sacrifices (II Ki.23:10; Jer.23:35). That is why Isaiah saw the need for a one for all sacrifices to end human barbarism. How did he know over seven hundred years before what kind of a person the human sacrifice would have to be? Even those critics, that believe there were two Isaiah’s, have to account for five hundred years before Jesus took our sins with Him to the cross. In his fifty-third Chapter, the prophet described the events that surrounded Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb, to the letter. The Servant’s life was a “guilt offering” and His blood protects those that believe in Him from facing an angry God alone.

Revelation Chapter Five is a scene in heaven and it is about, “Who is worthy to open the secret book?” It is the Lamb that was slain that is worthy to open the book. The book is about the Lamb’s followers (Rev.13:8) and their deeds (Rev.14:13). On judgment day, the Lamb shall open two books, the book of life and the book of judgment (Rev.20:11-15). The Lamb in Revelation, the Servant in Isaiah, and the Christ of the Gospels is worthy to open the books and act as defendant and prosecutor (Jn.5:22). As long as we are in the body or in the flesh, we do inadvertently sin and that is why we do require an advocate. Jesus has become our intercessor (Isa.53:12). He has access to the Father and pleads our case (I Jn.2:1). With Him on our side, then nothing can separate us from God (Ro.8:31-35).

The work of redemption was done on earth and carried to completion by a real human being. Jesus made a covenant with His followers while He was in the flesh. He concluded the agreement before He died. At His last meal, He broke bread and said this, “Take it; this is my body.” Then He took the cup and added, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” They all ate and drank from the same cup, thereby accepting the new covenant with Jesus. The agreement was between a Man and His followers. That same agreement was to be passed on to everyone that believed in the message of redemption. Instead of shedding more blood, the new comers had to believe, repent and be immersed in water (Mt.28:19-20; Jn.17:20-21). Then they were to be taught how to live as Jesus’ disciples in this world. Jesus’ final words were, “It is finished” (Jn.19: 30), and “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” (Lk.23:46). It meant that He had completed the covenant between Himself and whosoever shall believe in Him and follow Him. His was a human journey and so is ours. Like our Friend, we fear not to commit our spirit into the hands of a heavenly Father (Rev.14:13).