How Am I To Understand That
Jesus Is The Way?
© August 2006, Birgit Barandica Eichberger
How can a man be a way?
Look at this following animated graphic:
It starts with "The Beginning".... "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Maybe you still remember this sentence somehow. So, in the beginning you see man and God stand on the same ground. They were together, unified, had direct contact with each other. It is this what is known as "paradise". Paradise was not just a beautiful garden (it sure was, yet this was not the essential thing), but paradise was primarily a condition.
Now the graphic proceeds into the next sequence; "sin" comes piercing through. In fact this happens so seriously that, as you can clearly see, the ground between God and man splits downright insuperably. Now God stands on one side of the abyss and man on the other. From his own strength, man has no possibility whatsoever to return. I am pretty sure, this is not what man had intended with his disobedience... Mankind's worst catastrophe began to take its course...
Now what had happened? Let's go back in time a bit, just for a better understanding: after creating him, God had allowed almost everything for man to do in paradise. You can read about this in Genesis, chapter 1. Man had almost 100% freedom. The only percent that he was not allowed, was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Man should not eat of the fruit of this tree. With this prohibition God did not intend to deprive man of something good or, even worse, to test his loyalty toward God (none of this would have had anything at all to do with perfect love), but God knew that this fruit would not be good for man (this is perfect love, indeed!). The consumption of this fruit had consequences man was not designed for and would ultimately even kill him. And for quite some time before tragedy stroke, this prohibition was of no importance at all, because man trusted God without any restriction.
Yet exactly this confidence was now being sabotaged by Satan. From many Biblical statements (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28) we know that Satan once was a most beautiful, highly ranked angel in God's Kingdom. His former name "Lucifer" indicates to his other descriptions as bearer of lights, lightangel. Angels are also God's creation. With their own will they decided to hundred percently serve our loving God Allmighty. Yet at some point, Lucifer began to rebel (nobody knows what exactly he rebelled against, as being with God, everybody was just fine), he wanted to have a higher position and be like God himself. As this of course was completely impossible, he fell so deep into his rebellion that as from some point on, he could only hate. His hatress became abysmal (can you see the parallel in the wording?) and God could no longer tolerate his remaining in Heaven. Moreover, there was quite a group of other angels that had joined Lucifer in the meantime, and so all of them were expelled from Heaven. From then on, he could not maintain his name either, as he didn't hold up God's light anymore, and became Satan, the antagonist, who since then strikes terror into the world together with his demons (all other fallen angels).
Now, when God created the universe, the earth and man, Satan saw his chance coming to get even with God. If he could achieve to breake this complete confidence between man and God, then this would distroy the union between them irrevocably. And exactly this happened...
With his sneaky question; "did God really say...?" (Genesis 3:1), he sew doubt into man's heart, which led him to disobey. I guess you know how things went on: against all better knowledge, man took the fruit and from the very first bite on, he reached a level of consciousness that poured shame and fear into him, for he did not understand anything at all and in addition to that, in that very moment the connection with God broke. It was simply gone... I guess, no-one of us is able to get even near the understanding of the pain caused by this hopeless, frantic despair raging inside man when that happened. Up to then, he had only known life in unison with God, nothing else. And this is the difference to us people today: we don't know this experience, we only know a life without God.
All of a sudden, man was on his own. From his side, unity between God and him was irretrievably distroyed... This insurmountable abyss has opened up - in this very instance, man was catapulted into a condition of permanent seperation from God. This is the condition of sin, into which we all are being born ever since. Till now we are unable to deal correctly with this condition; we were never made for it. Shame and fear together with all other consequences don't belong in God's Kingdom.
Originally, we were created for a life inside God's Kingdom, not outside. Yet this is where we are living ever since - outside! And ever since, man is seaarching for a way back. Yet this search is getting more and more diffuse the farther away we stride from our origin. Man has absolutely no possibility at all of returning from his own part, and so he keeps on searching. If he dies being in that condition, he/she dies without God, which means he remains forever there where he died - outside God's realm. Can you relate to this? It has absolsutely nothing at all to do with being good or doing good. Since there is no union between man and God, nothing could ever draw him to the other side (not even the best of characters or deeds). This then is really hell!
Note: of course, not every doubt is a reason for seperation from God! There are several kinds of doubt. If for example, because of an honest interest, doubt draws questions that eventually lead to correct answers, then doubt is very legitimate. But doubting for doubt's sake is unhealthy, it leads to frustration and sometimes even to fatal behavior. This was the kind of doubt which led to seperation from God. So it was no punishment. It is utterly important for you to realize this and understand that it resulted into the necesity for our redemption!
Let's go on now with the third sequence of the above graphic:
Before Satan could ever take joy in his victory, God had seen through all of this dilemma and immediately had a rescue plan at hand; He Himself would bring the sacrifice that was necessary to reestablish unity between Himself and man, thus taking man out of his condition of sin! This was worth His relationship with man! Satan did not count on God's love going this far... The curse, of which he thought would hit man, since it was man who had disobeyed, now hit himself!! You can read about this in Genesis 3,14. For God knew very well that Satan was the instigator of all this. Man was totally incapable of bringing the needed sacrifice to mend what was broken, and had to bear the consequences of his act, but God in His indefinite love for man made a fantastic offer:
When time was ripe, He Himself would come to men and bring the atoning sacrifice that was necessary to reestablish unity: In His son Jesus, a human born from human yet at the same time still being God, He would take that kind of death upon Himself, which was caused by the consumption of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This death is so much more than "just" the natural death: here it is about spiritual death that really seperates man from God for all of eternity! So Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross for us - for you and for me; He took the worst death one can possibly think of on Himself in order to give all sins and pain into death; ALL sufferings of ALL people of ALL times. As grim as this might sound - but because of exactly this, God's love for us people is highlighted on the cross!
How this was possible is a mystery. Yet in this case it does not mean that God wants to keep it as a secret from us, but our human mind is too narrow for us to grasp this extent. So it feels like a mystery. But it works when we accept it! It is like with a present someone is giving you: something nicely wrapped into lovely papers - but if you don't accept it, it does not really belong to you - no matter how big your name is written on it! It only is of any worth to you if you really take it!
Exactly THIS event on the cross is the present for us that saves us when we accept it! It is a present that has cost God everything: it has cost His Son's life...
And now the most awesome thing happens: Jesus did not remain in death but resurrected! That means He lives - even now in the very moment you are reading this! He has conquered death and thus has defeated Satan! Isn't that the best news of all? Jesus is waiting longingly for you! If you accept His gift, then it will expand its effect for you.
"Accept" in this case means to believe that God really did this for you. It means trusting it, claiming this salvation for you! For this is the salvation: if you accept this sacrifice trustingly (meaning in faith), then it is as if you would physically grab Jesus' hand that He is holding toward you! It is a spiritual act, for it is about your soul. It is this what Jesus explains to Nicodemus about the necesity of being born again in the spirit (John 3,1-18), which leads into the key sentence: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him (Jesus) shall not perish but have eternal life." Like this, unity between you and God is reestablished and the insuperable abyss becomes superable for you. In the moment of your natural death, you will be instantly drawn into the light and this unity will discharge into the perfect, eternal unity inside God's Kingdom.
It is true, this redemptive sacrifice was brought for all of us. Yet it only is effective who those who accept it - it is no automatism.
You see this whole thing once more from a somewhat different perspective in the following green animation. It is in German since I did not find any English counter part. But it shows so well what happens (and it is really very easy to understand: Gott = God. Mensch = man. Sünde = sin). The condition of sin can be seen very clearly; whatever man tries to approach God (by religion or being "good", rituals, believing in a God, going to church regularly, being baptized or whatever else) - he simply does not succeed...
But God, as the creator of all life, can go wherever He wants to! Since He wanted to give man the possibility of returning into His hole, healthy, eternal condition, He Himself came to us in the form of His Son Jesus!
The cross, yes even He Himself, is the bridge that safely bridges the abyss that otherwise is insurmountable. You only have to decide to go this way! I hope the graphics of this poge make it clear, especially the smaller one on the right: here you can see it; some people have already walked over the cross and are now on God's side. Others are just on their walk and again others stand even turning away. So if you don't walk this step yourself (for God never forces anybody!), then you will remain in the condition of sin, seperated from God. Maybe you'll be thinking of crossing at a later point or you will stay there forever. Because nobody knows when your personal end or the end of times will come. Then, there will be no choice anymore.
It is like with other parts of life: say you want to take up a specific new job, you will have to decide for it! You will have to apply for it first, handing in all sorts of reports and references, then you'll have to patiently wait for an invitation for the interview, where you will have to go to nicely dressed and behaving well... and finally, you will have to sign the contract. If you don't do all those things you won't get the job. It depends on you. Before it will be possible for you to sign the contract, you will have to meet a lot of criteria. If you don't you won't even get near to signing the contract.
This is something that does not exist with God; in order to be with Him you don't have to meet any criteria at all, you don't have to bring anything along with you, you don't have to achieve nor purify anything. You won't even have to dress nicely, because you will be given new clothings by God Himself! The only requirement is your will, meaning your decision to grab Jesus' hand . This is the Way! Then you will spend all of your eternity in unison with the loving Triune God, which already starts here on earth! Isn't that the best perspective of all?!!!! Thus, Jesus is the way! Without Him, there is no other way! Maybe you'll enjoy reading my interpretation on the parable of the Prodigal Son. I think it will open up even more aspects of God's love toward you.