That was the reason given in a book that was really popular (and still might be) when it was published a couple of years ago. I came across it because a small group of folks where I work who have a mid-week Bible study over lunch decided to read it and talk about it.
This post is not a critique of the book so it will go unnamed. This post is about the primary reason given for Christ’s coming – ‘so we could have a relationship with him’. It’s a wildly popular notion and if you presented it to the vast majority of today’s evangelical Christians you would get a hearty “Amen!’
But IS it the reason Christ came to earth? What does the Bible have to say about it?
First of all we can ask Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father. When he was probably undergoing some angst over marrying a woman already pregnant with a child not his, an angel appeared to him and told him that Mary’s pregnancy was a ‘God thing’ and that the child was to be named ‘Jesus’ because “he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). No ‘relationship’ talk there.
Then we have the account of the first sermon preached when the church was birthed at Pentecost and an emboldened Peter preaching to a large crowd of Jews gathered in Jerusalem, telling them that the very Jesus they (the Jews) delivered up to be crucified was their long awaited Messiah, their savior! In face, we are told that although they had him crucified, it was God’s preordained plan that it would happen. (See Acts 2) No ‘relationship’ talk there either.
In fact, after more than a few readings through the Bible, I have yet to find any specific ‘relationship’ text given as a reason for Jesus’ coming to earth in the first place. While you can certainly assert that our relationship with God, and His Son, was a matter at stake in Christ’s coming (we are adopted into God’s family), the Bible tells us that everyone ever born has an ongoing relationship with Jesus from the moment of birth!
From the lips of Jesus:
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:18, emphasis mine)
Tough words. ‘All those who are in a state of unbelief in Jesus would have to include everyone who has not yet come to a point of belief. They are condemned already.’
From the lips of the Apostle Paul to believers in Ephesus:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Eph 2:1-3 emphasis mine)
More tough words!
Dear friends, we all have a relationship with Jesus. He is either our savior or our judge, right here, right now! If Jesus’ coming was about relationships, it was to change ours from condemnation to eternal life, from bound by the chains of sin to freedom in Christ!
What a tremendous thought for the 4th of July!
The author of the book would have been closer to the reason for Christ’s coming if he had stated it was about condemnation v. eternal life, or bondage v. freedom, but in my opinion he would have still missed the mark a bit.
Jesus came to pay the ‘death penalty’ required by a just God, His own Father, for our sin – for our freedom. Jesus drank the cup of His own Father’s holy wrath against our sin (Luke 22:42).
So yes, Jesus’ coming had a lot to do with our relationship with Him, but it wasn’t the primary reason he came to us. He came to bear the penalty for our sin, the guiltless One on behalf of the guilty, by the express predetermined will of His own Father!
And because Christ paid our penalty, if we believe in the name of the Son (John 3:18) we now have eternal life instead of condemnation, and instead of slavery and bondage to sin, freedom from its penalty and power while we yet life and one day from it’s very presence!
What a reason for celebration!
Food for thought on this 4th of July.