“Why did God wait so long? Why did Jesus have to die for our sins? Why couldn’t God have rescued us in a different way?”
This spring, as I have helped at the Good News Bible Club at our local elementary school, I have been so, so blessed to see the kids’ responses. Children in kindergarten through fourth grade come together every Thursday and are presented with the Gospel. And nearly every week, after the lesson, they flood me and the other volunteers with questions. They want to know everything. About how God can be eternal. About how Jesus was born and about His family. About when He is returning and what that will be like.
And the question that is at the beginning of this post. One little boy asked that, too. What a question! Why, I myself have asked that question!
Why did God wait so long? Four thousand years after Adam and Eve first brought sin into the world, that is when He finally sent Jesus – the Rescuer.
And still, the world isn’t perfect. Two thousand more years have passed, and still the Lord has not returned again to make all things new.
Why did He wait so long? Why does He wait so long?
I’m not God, so I don’t know all the reasons. But this we do know: He did have reasons.
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5).
And He has reasons for waiting again.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
And then the second part of the question. Why did Jesus have to die? Why couldn’t God have come up with another way?
On the evening of Good Friday, my mom suggested that we watch “The Passion.” It was the first time that my brother and I had ever seen it, and to be honest, I was a bit wary going into it. I had heard how graphic it is, and I shrank from the idea of watching, in detail, what Jesus went through.
And it was every bit as horrible as I had imagined. But I’m glad that I watched it. It gave me such a greater appreciation for what my Savior went through – for me. And for you.
But when it was over and I went to bed that night, I found myself echoing that little boy’s question. “Why, God? Why did it have to be that way? Why couldn’t You have saved us in a different way?”
When I answered the question at Bible Club just a couple weeks before, I had explained how the only way we could have our sins forgiven was if Someone perfect died. Because God is just, He requires a punishment for our sins. That’s why He allowed the Old Testament sacrifices to count for man’s forgiveness for so long. But those were animals. They weren’t enough.
When a perfect Person – Jesus – died for us, that was enough to cover all of our sins, forever.
But still, why? Why did God have to set it up that way? And even if Jesus had to die, why couldn’t He have died another way?
Perhaps…..perhaps it was to show us two things. Perhaps God wanted us to see just how horrible our sin is, that it justified death on a cross. And perhaps it was also to show us just how much God loves us – He wanted so much for there to be a way for us to be re-united with Him, that He was willing to go through such extreme suffering so that we could.
One third grader at the club asked, “So does God love us?” The volunteer who was teaching at the time said, “Absolutely.” The little girl looked surprised, “But I didn’t think He would.” Maybe she thought that, with all the bad things that we do, God surely couldn’t love us.
But the volunteer who was teaching at the time stopped and looked around at all the kids and asked in return, “How do we know God loves us?” Kids raised their hands, giving suggestions like “He made us,” or “He keeps us alive.” But then she pointed them all to the Cross as the supreme example. Our Savior died a horrible death, was separated from God temporarily – so that we could live eternally and be in communion with the Lord forever. That alone shows that He does indeed love us.
Love and justice met at the cross. The extreme suffering of the Savior demonstrates for us how horrible our sin is, and how much God loves us and wants to redeem us from that sin. And if a person can still look at the extreme suffering of the Savior, and not realize the extremity of his own sin, refusing to accept the extreme love that is extended to him – then shame on him.
I am reminded of these verses, which are directed toward believers.
Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:28-31).
This Easter, let us not forget what the Lord went through for us. Let us not be so caught up in family get-togethers and peanut-butter eggs and jelly-beans that we forget what this day is supposed to be about in the first place.
Let us remember what our Savior did for us about two thousand years ago on the cross. Let us be so thankful, so grateful, that His sufferings so long ago still apply to us today. Let us be filled with gratitude that “by His stripes, we are healed,” and that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
And let us be forever joyful that HE LIVES!
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Price of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ, my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
~When I Survey the Wondrous Cross