The Transformational Gospel of Jesus #32: Why is Jesus one of a kind?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Christmas is almost upon us and in our family we are scrambling to find just the right gifts for our Christmas ‘game’ of choosing and giving a surprise gift to the person he or she thinks should have it. This year my son has taken on the task choosing the gifts. Fortunately, we have the internet with a host of sites that offer unique gifts from which to choose.
Unique is an overused word when it comes to gifts. There are lots of gifts called unique. Yet Jesus used this idea to describe the gift of God’s Son while chatting with Nicodemus. Possibly ‘the only one of his kind’ is closer to what he meant. The Son was uniquely unique.
So how is Jesus unique? We could go into all the areas in which Jesus was the only one of his kind compared to the rest of humanity. How he possessed the only healthy soul. How he and the Father were one. How he did and said things that blew the lid off religion. As John said in the last chapter of his gospel, the world could not contain all the books that could be written about Jesus.
But I am going to focus on the one aspect that John recalled as he recorded Jesus’ words, the ‘shall not perish’ outcome of believing in him. Jesus was unique because through him God would defeat death in us. He did this by sending his Son into the world as a sacrifice who would bear the sins of the whole world.
God did not put Jesus on the cross to appease His wrath as if He had some kind of sadistic need—that He would not be willing to make up with us until someone suffered for all the problems that were caused by our rebellion. That’s a fairy tale told among those who reject God. There is something deeper going on. Until the cross, the enemy had the impression that he reigned over something—death. It all started in the Garden, when God warned Adam and Eve if they ate of the forbidden fruit, they would not just be merely dead, they would be really most sincerely dead. They ate.
This death sentence was not just for them, but for all of us who have their blood in our veins. Every human everywhere in every era of history was born with this condemnation sullying their future. Death is the greatest fear of our kind because we know we will have no more time after we take our last breath. So we stave it off as long as we can, grasping at the illusion of youth and health and longevity as long as we can lie to ourselves. But death claims us all.
Except…God gave His unique gift so that Jesus would pay our death dues through his own death. He had to be one of us—one of the condemned—to be able to do this. God could not do this for us as God. He could only meet the conditions of redemption as a human. This totally befuddled Satan, who never saw it coming until it was finished.
The writer of Hebrews points to this truth as he talks about what a great salvation God gave us. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15) Death was the power that Satan had used to falsely reign over all of us who had bought into his lies. Through His unique Son, God ripped away Satan’s false claims and sets free all who believe.