“The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
On the Church’s calendar this is the season of Lent, which began with Ash Wednesday, March 1st. Many churches do not celebrate this season, but wait for Holy Week, when they celebrate Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. However, all Christian churches do acknowledge and celebrate the purpose of Christ’s coming into the world, as stated so simply by Luke in his gospel, which is the reason for celebrating Lent, the season that brings the cross into focus.
The purpose of Luke’s gospel is to leave no doubt in our minds about the real reason for the incarnation, the Word made flesh, when the Son of God became the Son of Man in the person of the historical Jesus. During the Advent season, which culminates with Christmas Day, when Christians around the world celebrate Christ’s birth, we often hear “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Those words, often found on Christmas cards, are certainly true, for there would be no “CHRIST-MAS” without Jesus. And there would be no celebration of Lent without Jesus, for both Christmas and Lent are all about Jesus Christ.
However, there is another side to this truth: WE are really “the reason for the season(s).” Whether we Christians are celebrating Advent or Lent, we must not forget that this is the Good News that is at the heart of the Gospel. The word “Gospel” means “good news,” and the whole of the New Testament makes it abundantly clear that this IS the Good News: “The Son of man came to seek and to save the lost,” which made the cross of Christ necessary.
During Lent we need to pause and take a “cross-eyed” view of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul said, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of Christ my Lord.” (Galatians 6:14) The Apostle John gave us the Bible verse that is the most familiar, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him might not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) On the cross, Jesus received the wages of sin, which is death, which He had never earned, that we might receive the forgiveness of sins, and the gift of everlasting life, which we sinners could never deserve (Romans 6:23). Salvation is “…by grace alone, through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8) This is why we sing “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.” Do you see? Do you understand the difference between justice, mercy, and grace?
- JUSTICE is when a person receives what he deserves.
- MERCY is when a person does not receive what he or she deserves.
- GRACE is when a person receives what he or she could never deserve!
So to sum it up: the Son of God became the Son of Man, that we who are the sons and daughters of men might become the sons and daughters of God. This made the cross necessary, for Christ alone was good enough to become the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all, for all time. For although none of us may never be as bad as we could be, none of us will ever be as good as we should be. This is why all of us need a Savior, and the only Savior who will ever come has already come—His name is JESUS.