Why the sacrifice of Jesus is so effective
It is not through His suffering that Jesus Christ can redeem human beings, but through His obedience. This is what the Chief Apostle pointed out in a recent divine service. And he also explained how everyone can participate in it.
“For Adam and Eve, their person, their ego, was more important than their relationship with God, and that was their mistake.” This is how Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained the radical break.
“God is a God of fellowship, the three are one,” the Chief Apostle said on 7 April 2023 in a divine service in Nordhorn in Germany. “When the Bible says that human beings were created in the image of God, it means that they were to share in this fellowship—with God and with each other.”
But by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they made it clear: “We are going to be independent. We want to decide for ourselves what is good and what is evil.” They robbed themselves of fellowship with God. This was not a punishment from God, it was a direct consequence of their decision.
More important than His own person
But then: “He [Jesus Christ] humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” This was the Bible text used in the divine service, and is taken from Philippians 2: 8. And this counteracts the selfishness of Adam and Eve in two different ways.
For one thing, the Son of God came to earth to show human beings: even though you have left Me, I will not leave you. “You have left Me, but I am coming to you. And because you must suffer, I will suffer too. Because you must die, I will die too. I am with you!” The Chief Apostle went on to say that this is how God made it clear that His relationship with humankind was more important to Him than His own person, than His own glory.
On the other hand: “As a human, Jesus had fellowship with God. This was more important to Him than His own person: the will of the Father is My will. He wants to save humankind, and so do I. Where Adam made a wrong decision, I want to make the right choice and thereby break the power of evil.”
Not suffering but obedience
Jesus Christ saved us through His sacrifice. But what gives His sacrifice the capacity to produce such an effect, the Chief Apostle asked. “It is not His pain, not His suffering, and not His dying. It is His obedience that makes us righteous,” the Chief Apostle said with reference to Romans 5: 19: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”
“Let me make something very clear for a change,” the Church leader said: “For a long time, Christianity has glorified suffering by saying: if you suffer, you will be saved. In other words, if you don’t suffer, you have no chance of going to heaven. You must suffer.” But suffering does not save, the Chief Apostle said. “I hope I don’t shock anyone when I say that there have been people in history—and unfortunately there still are people today—who had to suffer much more than Jesus Christ did on the cross.”
So what makes the sacrifice of Jesus Christ so powerful? It is because of His obedience: He fulfilled the will of God perfectly. It is because His relationship, His communion with God, His love for human beings was more important to Him than His own person. Do you notice something? That’s exactly the opposite of how it was with Adam and Eve, the exact reverse! And because He has done this, His obedience can make us righteous.”
The three commandments of God
“There is no chance that we can be as obedient as Jesus Christ, even if we really put our mind to it,” the Chief Apostle admitted. However: “If we share in the obedience of Jesus Christ, He will save us by His merit.” There are three conditions that need to be fulfilled:
- “You must believe. No matter what happens, we trust in the word of God. What He says is the truth.”
- “You must love God. We act in accordance with the commandments of Jesus Christ; not because we have to. We do it because we love Him. So His will has become our will.”
- “Those who love God must also love their neighbour. Our love for God cannot be greater than our love for our neighbour.”
“These are the three commandments of God,” Chief Apostle Schneider said. “Such a heart’s attitude does not make us perfect, but God will grant us His grace and salvation through the merit of Jesus Christ.”