The Father wants sons of men to lay down their lives for his sake.
There is no one sacrifice under the law that takes away the sins of the world. Nevertheless, John the Baptist says of Jesus: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). What is the singular sin of the world and how does Jesus take it away?
The sin of the world is the love of life. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, shows believers that it is by acting like lambs; silently laying down our lives, that we take away sin.
Sinful love of life
Jesus says: “What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). The thing men esteem most highly of all is our lives. Therefore, the lives of men are despicable to God. Man’s love of life is the basis of all sin. We steal, cheat, fight, kill and commit adultery in order to save our lives. But the man who turns the other cheek and lays down his life like a lamb does not sin. We overcome sin by not loving our lives.
The devil says: “All that a man has he will give for his life” (Job 2:4). He maintains that a man will give up everything, including God, in order to save his life. But God insists those who really love him would never give him up, even at the cost of losing their lives. Jesus says: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). That greater love is required of believers. Only those prepared to lay down their lives out of love for God will inherit his kingdom.
Following the Good Shepherd
Jesus sets us an example on the cross by laying down his life; refusing to defend it. He now requires us to follow suit if we want to be where he is in the bosom of the Father: “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there my servant will be also” (John 12:25-26). This shows Jesus did not die for us. But he laid down his life as our shepherd in order to show us the path of life.
The devil wants us to save our lives as proof that we do not love the Father. He appealed to Jesus’ love of life by offering him all the kingdoms of this world. Then he threatened Jesus’ life, knowing he has the power to save it. But Jesus refused to save his life because it is through death that we return from this “far country” back to the Father (Luke 15:11-32). Thereby, he confirmed the Father’s love: “Therefore my Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from my Father” (John 10:17-18).
Before Jesus’ example, nobody knew the principal will of God is for men to lay down their lives for his sake. Therefore, the Father sent Jesus into the world to pioneer the fulfilment of this requirement. Jesus says: “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). The Father wants us to see what Jesus did and to do likewise. When Peter resisted this kingdom requirement, Jesus called him Satan and warned him that anyone who tries to save his life would lose it (Mark 8:35).
The kingdom of God
A kingdom is a territory where the will of a king is done. Since nobody on earth ever laid down his life for God before Jesus, the kingdom of God was limited to heaven. Therefore Jesus taught his disciples to pray: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Once Jesus came to earth as a man and fulfilled this will of God, the kingdom finally reached the earth.
Today, God’s kingdom is limited only to those who fulfil this specific will of the Father. Accordingly, Jesus warns that many Christians will not inherit the kingdom: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
Don’t be deceived by Paul’s vain altar-call confessions (Romans 10:9-10). Only those who, like Jesus, lay down their lives out of love for God will be resurrected after death unto eternal life with him.