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What a promise to be born under! Being born into this world and knowing that the purpose of your birth was to die.

Yes, I know we are all to die at some stage but this is different. When Jesus was born on that first Christmas morning some 2000+ years ago, He was born for the sole purpose of dying. Not dying because of something He would do or because He would reach a certain age or because He was to meet with a tragic accident, but born to die for everyone else.

If we look at it another way, He was born to be a sacrifice.

Now, it can be said that throughout human history, human sacrifice has been practiced and in some cultures, it was the custom (a custom still practiced in some satanic cults) that the first born child of the womb was to be sacrificed to some deity so that the family or the community would experience prosperity. Yet, this was different.

The first difference is the fact of who this man really was. He was none other than the Son of God, or put in another way, an intimate part of God Himself. Now when we consider that to transform Himself to come to earth as an ordinary man so that He was flesh and blood like the rest of us, He had to leave behind all the unimaginable glory that is heaven. We see glimpses of what this might have been like through the writings  of people like Peter, Paul, John, as well as some of the Old Testament prophets. However, they also make it quite clear that they could neither comprehend the glory of heaven nor were they able to find human words that went even remotely close to enabling us to have a description.

I say all that to give us a clear picture of the fact that we cannot hope to understand what Jesus gave up to come to this earth as a human baby.

Having looked at what He gave up for us, let’s look at why He had to die.

He was the only possible sacrifice that could (or can) be made in order that we of the human race could be found acceptable to God.

Our God is totally holy and any form of sin, no matter how minute we may think it is in our mind, is an abomination to God. Yet God was prepared to send His Son to die so that we might be found acceptable back into God’s presence. That is some sacrifice!

You see, it was necessary for Jesus to experience this world in order that He could take upon Himself our sinfulness. The Bible is very clear that Jesus was without sin but in the writings of the gospels, it was also very clear that, as He went to the cross, all the sin of the world was placed upon Him.

So drastic was this action, that God could not look upon His own Son there on Calvary because of the sin that had been taken upon His life so that we could be free.
So dramatic is this action, the writers of the crucifixion reports quote Jesus as saying: “My God, why have you forsaken me?” In other words, Jesus was totally aware that God could no longer look upon His own Son as He hung there on the cross. If we want to see this statement in another way, consider this interpretation: “My God, how come you are suddenly ignoring your own Son?” Put in those worlds, we can really see the anguish that Jesus must have been feeling.

But let’s move back before the crucifixion story and have a look at a couple of other things that tell us that Jesus knew He was born to die.

The first glimpse of this that we get is in Luke’s story of Jesus’ trip to the temple at the age of 12 (Luke 2:41-50). The story is well known (please feel free to read again this event if you are not totally familiar with it) but I want to concentrate on the reply Jesus gave to His parents when they found Him:

And He said to them, “Why did you seek me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Luke 2:49.

At age 12, Jesus was aware of His purpose on earth. How many 12 year olds do you know that have a totally fixed knowledge of what their exact future is or was. I doubt you will really know one. Some may have some dreams they eventually fulfil but to be that specific at that age would be most unlikely.

Continue to study the story of the life of Jesus and we find that time and time again He makes some form of reference to the purpose of His life here one earth.

Now I want to step aside, for a moment, from the Christ story to the realities of what was to happen.

There was a price to be paid. God had decreed that the only price for sin was death. The Hebrews practiced this aspect as the basis of their religious beliefs with daily, weekly, monthly and annual sacrifices of goats, lambs, cattle and other creatures. As I have hinted at before, human sacrifice is a part of the human story and this was often seen as the price that had to be paid by someone for their family, their village or whatever.

Who would be prepared to make such a sacrifice? No too many I would imagine. Certainly there are many Christians over the years who have become martyrs for their faith and some of those most certainly would have died in order that others might be able to escape from the events around them, and live. This is certainly a sacrifice that has been made and often made willingly by those who have died. However, it would often be argued that there wasn’t much choice in the matter and, that sometimes, the person concerned was sick, weak or had some infirmity that slowed the rest of their group down and so figured that dying quickly was better than a prolonged death and would help others. While I certainly would not say that this was their motivation, I feel that such a sacrifice had a deeper meaning within their hearts - there was a reward for them in doing this: they would be going home to be with Jesus and that was something to be looked forward to.

However, these deaths could be seen as the result of circumstance and not something that was planned. None of these people would have set out in life with the sole purpose of dying so that others may live. Certainly, many Christians are aware that the choices they make (even just to serve Christ) could cost them their life, but their purpose is not solely to die for Jesus but to serve Him and be prepared to die if it was necessary. There is a big difference.

From my own heart I can say that being a Christian always carries the possibility of death because of my faith, and I willingly would take that path if it is a part of God’s plan.  However, I certainly am not going to say my purpose in life is to go out and die for other people so that they can live. I am prepared to die but it is not my actual plan of action. Can you understand the difference?

Here is where I (and many others) are different to Christ. His birth was part of the plan to actually die. And that death was not just for a chosen few but for the whole human race. Estimates of the total human population that has ever existed is put between 6 and 8 billion people. Taking that figure, Christ died for everyone of them.

Now that, to me, is just mind blowing. I have a lot of difficulty in imagining that number of people let alone imagining someone planning to die for every one of them. That was the plan Jesus had.

Let’s sum this up and see what are the significant points of this great plan.

1. He was born to die.

2. He gave up heaven to do it.

3. The sacrifice was unconditional.

4. It was an act of love.

5. It was a free gift (not one to be paid for later).

6. And not the least, He did it for me (me being anyone who wants to make that statement).

So you can see from this, Jesus came to this world for the express purpose of dying for mankind. He was born to die.