This past Easter, our wonderful preschool ministry at church gave each of the girls a book about Easter. It's not a story book about bunny rabbits and pretty colored Easter eggs, it's a storybook about new life and how it's all around us and how we can have a new life.
Tucked into the pages of this short little story book is a picture of Christ, nailed and dying, hanging on the cross. Anna Beth loves to have this book read to her and I will read it to her a thousand times a day because it shares with her the story of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection - and how because of that, we can have new life in Him.
Often times she will bring the book to me with the picture of Christ on the cross and say, very sadly, 'Mommy, they put nails in His feet and His hands. He's on that cross, mommy.' I tell her that yes, for a little while He was on that cross because He loves her, but then he got down from that cross and now He lives in heaven.
Today, she brought the picture to me and said, 'Mommy, why He's on that Cross?' I repeated to her what I've told her over and over again...because He loves her. She seemed satisfied, until she came back a few minutes later and said, 'Mommy, let's pray for Jesus to get off that cross and get better.' I smiled and said, 'Okay. Let's pray.' She prayed, "Dear God, Thank you for my food (smile) and thank you for Jesus on the cross. Please get Him down and make Him all better. Amen." I can't tell you what these words did to me. To hear my 3 year old voice a prayer this sweet about Christ.
I asked her to hand me the book and I showed her the next page, where the tomb is empty. I told her that Jesus got down from that cross and He went into the tomb for a few days. Then I turned the page and showed her the picture of Jesus...awake and "all better"! I told her that He was off that cross and He was all better and He lived in heaven. The look on her face said it all. Her eyes lit up, a huge smile came across her face, and she just started clapping. He was off that cross and He was all better.
So, why was He on that cross?
John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world (that's you and me and everyone else) that He gave His only Son (Jesus), that WHOEVER (that's anyone and everyone) believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (in heaven with Him)." He love you and me and everyone else.
"...for ALL (that's you and me and everyone else) have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23. We've all messed up. None of us are perfect. None of us can stand on our own in front of a holy and righteous God and say, "We deserve heaven and a wonderful life with you forever." We're only fooling ourselves if we think that.
"...for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life." Romans 6:23. Since we know we don't deserve heaven, then what do we deserve? Eternal death. In hell....a very real, very horrible, very dark place where people are forever separated from God. No turning back. BUT....praise God, He gives us the gift of eternal LIFE with Him in heaven.
"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead (He's not on that cross anymore!), you will be saved (from eternal death.)" Romans 10:9. That's all. He loves you. He wants you to love Him. He wants to be your friend. He wants to have a relationship with you. He wants you to cry on His shoulder. He wants to rejoice with you. He wants to spend FOREVER with you.
And that, my friends, is why He was on the cross!!
* For further reading, the book of John in the New Testament of the Bible is an excellent account of Jesus life, death, burial, and resurrection. If you have any questions about any of these, I'd love to talk to you (email me at jmalcoleman). Or you can talk to a pastor at your local church or anyone you know that loves God and can help you better understand. @gmail.com