For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Luke 19:10

We have seen that true saving faith must have an object, but it is not that faith must be placed in a set of doctrinal statements or a systematic way of thinking about salvation. No, the object of our faith is to be Jesus Christ. We examined briefly the claims that Jesus and the Apostles made about Jesus, about Who He is. He is the Second Person of the Trinity, fully God and fully Man, the Lord, our Savior, and the only Mediator between God and men.

But in order for us to place our faith in Christ, in order to trust Him, we also need to know why He came. Why should we trust Jesus? Sure He is by the testimony of Scripture the Son of God, “God with us,” but why do we need to trust Him? Seeing our need will answer the question, “Why did Jesus come?”

The Holiness of God

We must start by seeing God for Who He is. He is perfect in majesty and holiness, pure and immutable, incapable of sin and deceit. He is Almighty God, the Creator of all that is. And as a holy, holy, holy God, He created mankind to have fellowship with Him. Not because He needed fellowship, but because He desired it. He, for His own purposes and good pleasure, wanted to fellowship with us.

He created the world for us to live in and tend. He gave us everything we needed for life and godliness. Everything He created was good and perfect. But then, after creating mankind as male and female and giving them a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:16-17), Satan came in the form of a serpent and tempted Eve to eat of the fruit (Gen 3:1). He started with the same old lie, “Did God really say?” He went on to tell Eve and Adam that they would be like God if they ate the fruit and that God was afraid that they would become His equals and that was the only reason for the command (Gen 3:4-5). Eve added to the Word of God, by the way. She answered the serpent that God has said not to eat or even touch the fruit (Gen 3:2-3). Did God tell her not to touch the fruit? No. He said only not to eat it. She added to the Word, doubted the Word, denied the Word, and driven by the lust of her flesh (it was good for food), the lust of her eyes (it looked good), and the pride of life (it would make her “wise”) she took and ate the fruit…and then gave some to Adam (who was right there with her the whole time) and he willingly ate as well (Gen 3:6).

Mankind had violated God’s Word. They had disobeyed. They had sinned. And as such they ceased to be holy and perfect. They suffered spiritual death and bondage to sin and then suffered under the curse that the whole world groans under to this day.

Because God is holy and all of mankind, represented by Adam, sinned when he ate the fruit (Rom 5:12), now we all were separated from God. Hence the Bible is true when it states “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23).

As God had specifically warned Adam and Eve, to eat the fruit was to die. And we know that “the wages of sin is death.” (Rom 6:23). Adam did not die physically at that instant. But he did die spiritually and because that fellowship with the Father was broken and the commandment violated, Adam would now face death physically. And just as we all die, Adam died (Gen 5:5).

That Which is Lost

In seeing what happened in the Garden of Eden, we see that mankind fell into sin and if we were to have fellowship with God, as He intended, then we would have to be restored, or reconciled to Him (Col 1:21). In that sense then, we were indeed lost in the Garden. We lost fellowship and unhindered access to God. We lost eternal life in His presence forever, we lost life and health, we lost our freedom being now dead in sin, we lost our way.

And that is why Jesus had to come. He says that He came to “seek and save that which was lost.” You see, God knew before He ever started creating that Adam and Eve would sin. He knew before the world began that to redeem fallen man would cost the life of His only Son. He knew that it was up to Him to save us because we could not save ourselves. He knew, because this was what He had planned all along to proclaim His glory through the ages. When Adam and Eve ate that fruit, God was not taken by surprise. He did not make them eat it. But He knew they would. God is not the author of sin. But He allowed it and now uses it for His purposes. Imagine God is powerful enough to take anything that happens in our life and use it for His own glory and for our good. (Rom 8:28).

So Jesus was sent to seek out, find, and save that which was lost. And that is why we must know why He had to come before we can see our need to trust Him. If we tell people to trust Christ they will likely ask, “Why should I trust Christ?” And the answer is, because we need to trust Him if we are to reconciled to a holy God and have our sins forgiven.

The Word of God tells us of our need. The Law of God shows us how far short we fall of His standards and His righteousness. We see that we have sinned and that we cannot pay for our sin. The Law points us to our need for Christ (Gal 3:24).

“Oh, but wait,” you say, “will not the lost man pay for his sin in hell forever?” Well there you have it. If we are required to pay the sin debt we owe, it will never be paid. We will pay forever, but never finally satisfy the justice, wrath, and holiness of God. Our sin is so heinous because He is so holy that if we are required to pay for it on our own the debt will never be paid off. Not for all eternity (Mark 9:43, 45).

People who deny the doctrine of a literal hell fail to realize that in doing so they cheapen both the awfulness of sin and the glory of God. We can never pay what we owe. That is why being under the wrath of God for eternity is referred to as the second death (Rev 21:8) – we will all die physically unless the Lord Jesus comes back, and we will all either live forever with God in the new heavens and earth, or we will die forever in the lake of fire. Always dying and never being dead. Flames. Worms. Torments. Darkness and blackness, with pain that drives to the gnashing of teeth to try and seek some relief. But there is no relief. No drop of water. No break. It is forever. Such is the nature of sin in opposition to the absolute holiness of God.

The Substitute

In seeing our need for salvation, for a rescue from the power of sin and death and hell, we see why Jesus had to come. God has to save us for we cannot save ourselves. We cannot be good enough for all we can do outside of Christ is sin (Rom 14:23). We cannot buy eternal life or the forgiveness of sins. We cannot afford the bill that is due. We cannot think that God will balance our good and bad behavior on a scale and if the good outweighs the bad then we will get into heaven. Jesus said there is none good but God (Psalm 14:3; Rom 3:12; Matt 19:17). So there is not a man (except for Christ) in the history of the world that has been good after Adam fell in the garden.

The truth is we cannot keep the law of God. James is clear. To break one commandment is to break all the law (James 2:10). Think of it. If you break one law out of a hundred you are still a lawbreaker. You are still a sinner. And the wages of sin is still death.

So we see why we must trust in Christ, because we need a substitute. Someone had to pay the debt that we cannot. Someone had to keep all the law without breaking a single one. And that is why Jesus had to come.

He came to be a man. God knew we could not save ourselves so He sent His Son to become one of us. As a man then He kept all the Law of God. He came to “fulfill all righteousness.” He was holy just as the Father is holy. He, as the spotless Lamb of God, obeyed all the Law, from outward precept to inward motive. He was a righteous man.

As such then He could stand in for us when it came time to be tried for our sin. He could give us (impute to us) His obedience. He could give us His righteousness. And He as a man could also pay our bill. He could offer Himself as a sacrifice and die for our sin. That is just what He intended to do when He came to seek and save that which was lost. He took our sin upon Himself. He paid for our sin before God. He bore the wrath and justice of God that our sins made us deserve. He carried the burden that we could not. He paid the bill we could never afford. And He paid it in full.

So we see then what the Word of God calls propitiation. Jesus offered Himself on our behalf, taking our sin upon Himself by becoming a substitute for us in death, and at the same time imputed to us all of His righteousness so that we could be declared right with God (1 John 4:10; Heb 2:17; Rom 3:21-26).

How are we declared right with God? When Jesus seeks us and saves us, draws us to the Father (John 6:44), convicts us of our sinfulness (John 16:8) and our need for a Savior, gives us grace and faith (Eph 2:8-9), and we see our need and trust in Him. When we obey the gospel message, we repent, turning from our sin and turn in faith to Christ, we trust Him to save us, to forgive us, to take our sin away and give us eternal life. When we believe in Jesus Christ we are declared right with God (Rom 5:1). Because of Who He is, and what He has done on our behalf, we can be made right with God.

That is amazing grace. Tomorrow we will see how it is that Jesus took our sin upon Himself by the death that He died on the cross. Until then here is something to think about – have you seen your need for a Savior? Have you seen your sin and its cost – a bill you cannot pay? Have you repented from your sin and turned to Christ in faith, trusting Him to save you and forgive you – to pay your debt and give you a right standing with God? Have you believed and obeyed the gospel, the good news, that Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost?

If so, rejoice is so great a salvation provided by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. If not, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can bargain your way into heaven. We have nothing to bargain with – God requires absolute goodness and holiness and we are neither good nor holy outside of Jesus Christ. If we take such a gamble we have to see that we have nothing to gamble with, we have nothing good to offer (Isaiah 64:6). We are already dead, we are already in debt so far that we will never pay our way out. We must be rescued. Someone must come and save us for we cannot save ourselves. Do you see your need? If you see your need, look to Christ. Look to Him – He in the only One who can save you.


(Tomorrow: How Did Jesus Die?)