I’ve often wondered why God would give us eternal life because his Son died. It’s a great deal for us, all right, because we get eternal life given to us for what Jesus did. We have no hand in it at all.
But how can the death of Jesus be enough for God to grant us life forever?We’re talking about rebellious humans here, who destroyed our potential for eternal life right out of the starting gate. We weren’t the least bit interested in living forever either. We much preferred the serpent’s deal, of doing whatever we want in this life and then dying.
You couldn’t come up with anything more stupid, short sighted and pig-headed than that. So why would God even want us around forever, especially after offering us the best deal ever, and we rejected it? It takes me back to the first time I was offered a free drive in a Go-Kart. At eleven years old I couldn’t have dreamt a better dream than that. But I turned it down. I said, “No, I don’t want to drive it.” What was I thinking? How could I be so stupid? Why refuse the best offer I’d ever had? But I did.
So I wouldn’t blame the chap who offered me the free drive for giving up on me totally and never offering me a free drive again. But what if he’d said to me: “Look, Sonny Jim, how about I die for you? Would you take the Kart for a drive then?”
Well, now I’d think he was insane, not me, because why would he need to die? Why would such a drastic measure be necessary? And why would he be willing to die to give me another chance at all, when it was clear I was completely bonkers for refusing his original offer?
But it would have told me something wonderful, that he wanted me to experience the thrill of driving a Go-Kart so much he was willing to go that far to get me to drive it. He knew how much I’d love driving that Kart once I was in it, but to get someone as stubborn and stupid as me into the Kart would clearly take drastic measures. Really drastic measures.
It reminded me of the king who turned down the best offer any human had ever been given since the Garden of Eden. It’s in Isaiah 7:10, when God says to King Ahaz of Judah, “Ask for a sign from your God. Ask anything. Be extravagant. Ask for the moon!” Go on, ask for whatever your heart desires. But what does Ahaz say in reply? “No, I could never do that.”
What was the stupid man thinking? This was God speaking, with all the powers of nuclear energy tripled a billion times at his disposal, enough to fulfill the greatest of human dreams, and this silly little man turns him down.
But instead of God exploding into a thousand pieces, he says to Ahaz, “Well, I’m going to give you a sign anyway,” and out came the prophecy of Immanuel, who one day would die for the likes of Ahaz and all those like him who would love eternal life once they had it, but hadn’t enough sense to want it when it was offered to them.
Immanuel, therefore, becomes God’s way of saying, “If I die for you, would you accept my offer of eternal life then?” But rather than wait for our answer he died for us anyway. There was no point in God waiting for us to make a decision, though, because we’d already made it in the Garden of Eden and, except for a few people in the Old Testament, we showed no signs of taking up his offer since the Garden of Eden either. So God takes a detour right round our stupid, short-sighted, pig-headedness and does the shocking act of actually dying for us, to show us how much he wants us to experience eternal life, because he knows how much we’ll love it once we’ve got it.
But getting us to that point of accepting his offer would require drastic measures. and in human terms there is nothing more drastic than death, and especially someone dying for other people’s stupidity. And God took that most drastic of measures, willingly.
Such a death didn’t only justify him giving us eternal life, it also showed how much God wants us to experience the thrill of eternal life. His death for our eternal life, the best deal there has ever been. So who on earth would be stupid enough to say, “Not for me”?