Someone had to come to earth and defeat Satan. Someone had to live his entire life without sinning. Jesus volunteered.
“For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
John 3:16. It’s a verse I have heard quoted so many times. But what does it actually mean?
“God so loved the world…” It makes sense that God loved the world, because He created it. And since He created man in His own image, it is understandable that He loves us too. But why did He have to give His Son? Why did Jesus have to come to earth?
Satan gained power over mankind
I think the answer lies in the very beginning of Genesis. We read how God created a perfect paradise, and how Satan was able to deceive Adam and Eve. With the fall, the earth was no longer flawless and because of sin, people were no longer able to be blameless. Satan now had power over mankind.
Since they could no longer serve God completely, God gave them the law – commandments that would help them live a good outward life. But year after year they had to make sacrifices to God to atone for their sins, because they were not able to overcome the sin that dwelt on the inside – in their human nature. Sin created a division between God and man, and because the wages of sin is death, Satan, who had the power of death, had sinners in his clutches.
Jesus never sinned – and Satan lost his power
Together with His Father, Jesus looked down from heaven and saw mankind struggling in sin. Jesus also longed to share what He had in heaven with the creatures that were created in the image of God. But how could He reach across that chasm that separated earth from heaven?
There was only one answer. Someone had to come to earth and defeat Satan. Someone had to live his entire life without sinning, to make a way through the human flesh from one side to the other. Jesus volunteered.
He took the form of a human, including a nature with sinful inclinations, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, He lived a completely victorious life! When He died on the cross, Satan lost his power over mankind, because Jesus never sinned!
“For He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15. This means in His flesh, He faced every temptation and by taking up His cross daily, He overcame it all, making a way through the human flesh. And in doing so, He created footsteps for us to follow on the same way!
When Jesus hung on the cross and died, Satan thought he had finally outsmarted God. But He was completely wrong! When Jesus appeared at the gateway to the kingdom of death, Satan had absolutely nothing with which to accuse Jesus, because He lived a perfect life. Thus Jesus Himself became the new owner of the keys to the kingdom of death. Jesus finally made a bridge across the divide between God and man.
Everlasting life for all those who overcome
When I think back to the second part of John 3:16, where it says, “that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” it has so much hope for me. I believe that Jesus came, and that He made a path that I can also follow. A path that leads straight through my flesh and across that void that lies between God and myself. This means that because of Jesus’ sacrifice I no longer need to be a slave of sin, and if I take up my cross daily like Jesus did, Satan no longer has control over me.
With God’s help, I can receive power to overcome the sin that is in my flesh and when I resist Satan and put sin to death, then in my daily life, something divine and heavenly can come forth. When I do this, I am walking on that way that Jesus made – a way that leads straight into the kingdom of heaven. I will share eternity with Him!