“Jesus saves!” “Jesus is our Savior!” In many countries around the world, such messages are displayed on walls of buildings and in other public places. Millions of people sincerely believe that Jesus is their Savior. If you were to ask them, “How does Jesus save us?” they would probably reply, “Jesus died for us” or, “Jesus died for our sins.” Yes, Jesus’ death makes it possible for us to be saved. But how can the death of one man pay for the sins of a multitude? If you were asked, “How can Jesus’ death save us?” what would you say?
THE answer that the Bible gives to this question is very simple but clear and full of significance. To grasp its importance, though, we first need to see Jesus’ life and death as a solution to a very difficult problem. Only then can we properly understand the enormous value of Jesus’ death.
In having Jesus give his life, God was dealing with a situation that arose when Adam sinned. What a tragedy that sin was! The very first man and his wife, Eve, were perfect. The beautiful garden of Eden was their home. God gave them the meaningful work of caring for their garden home. They were to have under their loving oversight the other living creatures on earth. And as humans multiplied and filled the earth with millions of their kind, they were to expand the paradise to earth’s limits. (Genesis 1:28) What a delightful and exciting work they were given! Moreover, they had the warm companionship of each other. (Genesis 2:18) They lacked nothing. Happy eternal life was before them.
It is hard to imagine how Adam or Eve could sin. But the first human pair rebelled against the very one who created them—Jehovah God. Using a serpent, the spirit creature Satan the Devil deceived Eve into disobeying Jehovah, and Adam followed her.—Genesis 3:1-6.
There was no question about what the Creator would do about Adam and Eve. He had already spelled out the consequence of disobedience, stating: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17) A question of far greater magnitude now required an answer.
Mankind Faces a Difficult Problem
The original sin created a very critical problem for mankind. Adam began life as a perfect human. Therefore, his children could have enjoyed perfect everlasting life. However, Adam sinned before he fathered any children. The entire human race was still in his loins when he received the sentence: “In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19) So when Adam sinned and began to die as God said he would, all mankind was sentenced to death along with him.
Appropriately, the apostle Paul later wrote: “Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) Yes, because of the original sin, children that were supposed to be born perfect with endless life ahead of them were brought forth with sickness, old age, and death as their prospect.
“That is not fair,” someone might say. “We did not choose to disobey God—Adam did. Why should we lose our prospect for everlasting life and happiness?” We know that if a court of law were to put a son in prison because his father had stolen a car, the son could rightly complain: “That is not just! I did not do anything wrong.”—Deuteronomy 24:16.
By inducing the first man and woman to sin, Satan may have concluded that he would place God in an impossible situation. The Devil struck very early in the history of the human race—before any children had been born. The moment Adam sinned, an important question was, What will Jehovah do about the children that Adam and Eve will have?
Jehovah God did what was just and fair. “Far be it from the true God to act wickedly, and the Almighty to act unjustly!” declared the righteous man Elihu. (Job 34:10) And concerning Jehovah, the prophet Moses wrote: “The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) The solution that the true God provided to the problem created by Adam’s sin does not take away our opportunity for everlasting life on a paradise earth.
God Provides a Perfect Solution
Consider the solution God laid out in the sentence he pronounced on Satan the Devil. Jehovah said to Satan: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman [God’s heavenly organization] and between your seed [the world under Satan’s control] and her seed [Jesus Christ]. He will bruise you [Satan] in the head and you will bruise him in the heel [Jesus’ death].” (Genesis 3:15) In this first prophecy of the Bible, Jehovah alluded to his purpose to have his heavenly spirit Son come to earth to live as the perfect man Jesus and then die—be bruised in the heel—in that sinless state.
Why did God require the death of a perfect man? Well, what was Jehovah God’s penalty for Adam if he sinned? Was it not death? (Genesis 2:16, 17) “The wages sin pays is death,” wrote the apostle Paul. (Romans 6:23) Adam paid for his sin with his own death. He was given life, he chose to sin, and he died as a penalty for his sin. (Genesis 3:19) What about the condemnation that the entire human race came under because of that sin? A death was needed to atone for their sins. But whose death could justly cover the transgressions of all mankind?
God’s Law to the ancient nation of Israel required “soul for soul [or, life for life].” (Exodus 21:23) According to this legal principle, the death covering mankind’s transgressions would have to be of a value equal to what Adam had lost. Only the death of another perfect man could pay the wages of sin. Jesus was such a man. Indeed, Jesus was “a corresponding ransom” for the saving of all redeemable mankind descended from Adam.—1 Timothy 2:6; Romans 5:16, 17.
Jesus’ Death Has Great Value
Adam’s death had no value; he deserved to die for his sin. Jesus’ death, however, had great value because he died in a sinless state. Jehovah God could accept the value of Jesus’ perfect life as a ransom for obedient descendants of sinful Adam. And the value of Jesus’ sacrifice does not stop at paying for our past sins. If it did, we would have no future. Being conceived in sin, we are bound to err again. (Psalm 51:5) How grateful we can be that Jesus’ death makes provision for us to gain the perfection that Jehovah originally intended for the offspring of Adam and Eve!
Adam can be likened to a father who died and left us in such deep financial debt (sin) that there is no possible way for us to get out of debt. On the other hand, Jesus is like a good father who died and left us a rich inheritance that not only frees us from the enormous debt that Adam burdened us with but also provides enough for us to live on eternally. Jesus’ death is not simply a cancellation of past sins; it is also a wonderful provision for our future.
Jesus saves because he died for us. And what a valuable provision his death is! When we see it as a part of God’s solution to the complex problem of Adam’s sin, our faith in Jehovah and his way of doing things is strengthened. Yes, Jesus’ death is a means of rescuing “everyone exercising faith” in him from sin, disease, old age, and death itself. (John 3:16) Are you thankful to God for making this loving arrangement for our salvation?
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Adam brought sin and death upon mankind
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Jehovah provided a perfect solution