"Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."
(John 1:29 - RSV)
From the beginning, God had recognized the possibility that man would choose not to obey His instructions. The Bible informs us that God had made provision to reconcile the alienated human race before He created the world (See I Peter 1:18-20) This provision was in His son, Jesus Christ. Sin and death came into the world through Adam; the only way for the penalty of death to be cancelled was for another perfect man to die.
"Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation of all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous" (Romans 5:18-19 - RSV).
God gave the law covenant to Israel, intending that it would teach man two lessons. First, the law demonstrated to man how sinful he actually was: because of his imperfect nature and the perfection of God's law, man could not attain the required level of righteousness through his own works.
Secondly, the law was a tutor, directing man toward a more effective and powerful mode of salvation; the law foreshadowed Jesus. Jesus' death and resurrection cancelled our inherited Adamic curse. Jesus became the Christ:
"For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die,- so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:21-22 - RSV).
God's free gift of life eternal through His son Jesus was first made available to the Jewish people. As a nation, however, they rejected Jesus:
"He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:11-12 - KJV).
Israel failed to recognize Jesus as its promised messiah. Therefore God made salvation available, through faith, to the non-Jewish. By means of a vision, God commissioned the Apostle Peter to take the gospel message to non-Jews. Peter's opening comment to his Gentile listeners was, " . . . Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:34-35 - RSV).
A question arose at this time whether God had therefore rejected all the Israelites. Paul answers the question concisely:". . . . God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. . . ." 7 Paul indicated that many Jews, in addition to the Apostles, accepted the gospel message. (Romans 11:1-2 - KJV) The falling away of Israel from God's favor opened the way for God's grace to be extended to other people:
Now I ask myself, "Was this fall of theirs an utter disaster?" It was not! For through their failure the benefit of salvation has passed to the Gentiles (Romans 11: 11 - PT).
Salvation through Christ now became available to anyone who desired it, regardless of nationality or background. Christ began a new era in which God deals with individuals rather than a particular nation.
For the scripture says, "Whoever believes in him will never be disappointed." This includes everyone, for there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles; God is the same Lord of all, and richly blesses all who call on him. As the scripture says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10: 11-13 - GN).
Jesus willingly accepted his sacrificial role: "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord (John 10:17-18 - RSV). Jesus had fully committed himself to doing his Father's will rather than his own. In one response to his critics he said, ". . . I seek not my own will, but the will of him who sent me" (John 5:30 - RSV).
After his earthly ministry, Jesus was crucified. To the casual observer, this cruel death must have appeared to be utter defeat for Jesus and his followers. However, in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, Christ was resurrected three days later. He appeared to many people after his resurrection. At this time he declared to his followers: "All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18 (PT). The power God exhibited in raising His son from the dead was now the very power available to the son. The resurrection event illustrated the dominant power of life over the force of death. "For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him (Romans 6:9 - RSV).
Christ's resurrection became a source of transforming power in the lives of the Apostles. Through the power of the Holy Spirit they were now able to fully consecrate themselves to the will of God. This same transforming power is now available to all who accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1 :3-5 - RSV).