Christians have always believed that because Jesus lived, died and rose from the dead, the relationship between God and humans has changed for all time. God and human beings can be peacefully at one. But why?
To try to explain this, Christians have developed metaphors – ways of describing what is ultimately undescribable. None of them has been adopted as the sole view of the church. It is something too complex to understand, but they all give glimpses of what Jesus has done for humans:
God is victorious
When Jesus died on the cross, evil (personified as the devil) made its strongest bid to defeat God. But when Jesus rose from the dead, God showed himself victorious over evil. Nothing can now keep humans from his love.
God provides a substitute
Because God has justice at the heart of his nature, all wrongdoing must be punished. This alienates humans from God. When he died on the cross, Jesus willingly received our punishment instead of us. God’s need to see justice has been satisfied, and now nothing can separate humans from him.
God identifies with humans in their greatest need
Out of his great love, God does what seemed to be impossible. The death of Jesus shows God suffering in the most wretched way imaginable. God and humans are now totally united. They were united in the worst humans can suffer, so they will also be united in the best heaven can offer.
Jesus was a ransom
Jesus was the price paid to the devil in order to liberate human beings from the slavery they were under – slavery to sin.
Jesus was our supreme example
The love of Jesus, freely giving himself on behalf of this needy world, overcame everything negative. It inspires men and women to the kind of transformation that would be impossible without him.
Each attempt to understand how the life of Jesus has changed the relationship between God and humans leads back to a historical fact – a man being put to death in a hideous fashion. This is why the cross has become the central symbol of Christianity.
What the Bible says about it
An extract from the Bible:
If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Where to find it:
About these words:
From a letter written by Paul, one of the most significant leaders of the church in the years after Jesus.
And they said…
Stephen Colbert, comedian:
[My mother] taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed. And that’s directly related to the image of Christ on the cross and the example of sacrifice that he gave us.
David Jenkins, former Bishop of Durham:
The Resurrection is real. That’s the point … After all, a conjuring trick with bones proves only that somebody’s very clever at a conjuring trick with bones. A resuscitated corpse might be a resuscitated corpse. Or it might be a sign of something. [The important thing] is the question of what it is the symbol of.
Douglas Adams, comic writer and outspoken atheist, 1952-2001:
Two thousand years ago one man got nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be if everyone was nice to each other for a change.
Kanye West, rapper and record producer:
I ain’t here to argue about his facial features. Or here to convert atheists into believers. I’m just trying to say the way schools need teachers, the way Kathie Lee needed Regis … that’s the way y’all need Jesus.
Bernhard Langer, champion golfer:
To a Christian, Easter Sunday means everything. It’s when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.