Many might not pursue a connection with God because of explanations as to why Jesus died on the Cross. Many who have grown up in a traditional church have sung songs referring to “washed in the blood of Jesus or saved through the blood of Jesus.” It has led to confusing legal rather than natural relational interpretations of the purpose of Jesus death. Mark doesn’t say the purpose of the ransom: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (10:45). Was Jesus really more concerned with God’s reputation and justice being served rather than seeking credibility and influence to serve us?
The best analogy I have read about why Jesus died on the Cross is a soldier often will lay down their life for the benefit of their fellow soldiers. Soldiers often show tremendous courage by putting themselves in harm’s way to protect those they care deeply about. Jesus accepted suffering and eventual death to inspire and influence us how self-centeredness destroys lives and the world we live in. Jesus’ simple message was to love God and love others as yourself (Mk. 12:28-34). God isn’t egotistical as loving God is to love ourselves and others like we want to be loved. Once we know who God truly is, such a friendship can empower one to shun evil and do good.
No single biblical passage requires that we interpret the Cross in standoffish legalistic terms as if God needed to be appeased or satisfied before fully loving us. Does God really care more about their ego than desire to encourage us? God was not so angry at sinners that God had to kill Jesus. God didn’t need to be appeased by human sacrifice like the other gods during those times. God only hoped for confession for accepting wrongdoings is the first step in healing all relationships. How can we truly appreciate God if we think of the Cross in terms of what Jesus did for God as opposed to what Jesus did for us? Jesus’ death being for God undermines Jesus’ pain and struggle for us.
Jesus was more concerned with the restoration of our relationship with God than the guilt of our sins. God didn’t have to have their honor restored before they could love us. God sought to prove to us their unimaginable love. God went to great means to gain moral authority and credibility to convince us God’s ways are truly in our best interests. Jesus wanted us to avoid paths of destructions that lead to regrets. Jesus faced undeserved suffering so to walk in our shoes to better understand how difficult it is to live selflessly in a world where one is free to love or hate others for their own gains. We can be forgiven and start each day anew with God. It is never too late with God to turn your life around as we see in the parable of the vineyard workers (Mt. 20).
Jesus didn’t come to save us from Hell after death. The Greek word Gehenna, wrongly translated as Hell, referred to a valley near Jerusalem. If seeking to avoid God’s supposed torture chamber, don’t go near that valley! Blood analogies don’t truly convey what God sought to do for us through Jesus. Jesus sought to convince us God would go to any means to convince us of the deception of selfishness. Jesus sought to empower us to be comfortable with God despite our guilty feelings. Selfishness is always destructive and creates the need for forgiveness in relationships, but Jesus wanted us to know we are loved by our Creator and desires to help us be the kind of persons we all want to be deep down.