Of course, we must first see that it’s Jesus Himself who is the means for the total eradication of the sin of the whole world.
2 He is God’s way of dealing with our sins, not only ours but the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2 CEB)
But we shouldn’t look at what Jesus did for us like the Old Testament animal sacrifices. The Cross wasn’t some new version of an angry pagan deity who needed a virgin sacrifice or he burns the village. Actually, I think God was arguing against that version of Himself throughout the Old Testament, although this paradigm was deeply embedded in the hearts of the people He had called out from the religious bondage of the Babylonian/Egyptian cult gods.
These sacrifices only covered sins and reminded us of them over and over again. It demonstrated God’s forbearance (Rom.3:21-26), but the writer of Hebrews makes clear that this wasn’t what He was ever after (emphasis mine):
3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.” (Heb. 10:3-4 NKJV)
The psalmist says the same thing and then tells us that all God ever wanted was our hearts.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17 NKJV)
I agree with Michael Hardin when he says that, because of His other-centered love, we should see Jesus on the cross absorbing all our sin unto Himself like a big black hole.
“Jesus’ death must be of another order if it is neither a murder nor a sacrifice. It is this new category, this new way of thinking that the apostolic witness seeks to open up. This new way is that of Jesus’ self-offering. Like a black hole sucking in everything, so Jesus’ death absorbs all of our violence and our death dealing paradigms.” (The Jesus-Driven Life, loc. 7593, Kindle Edition)
This is a great way to look at what Christ did with the sin of mankind. Here’s a short NASA clip showing what a black hole does to a passing star. Imagine that star is your sin….
Your sin is like that star, destroyed and totally absorbed into the black hole of Love!
I’ve already talked about what the “sin of the world” actually is on this blog, so I won’t elaborate on that here. Since the Reformation we’ve tended to look at sin legalistically, as an infraction or violation of God’s Law that must be appeased by an angry God. This view of the Godhead is conflicted, at best. And this view of sin is nothing more than a superficial understanding of something much more insidious and sinister lurking inside of every human heart.
Sin is better understood as a “tragic flaw” that keeps us from becoming fully human (See my post titled, “Missing the mark.”)
The phrase, “taken away” in John 1:29 is from an interesting Greek word: αἴρω (airō). It means to take up, lift, raise; bear, carry; take away, remove; destroy, kill (Mounce).
This word, airō, tells me a lot about the Cross.
It tells me that Jesus came to “take up” our sin and “raise” it on a pole for the whole world to see (John 3:14-17), for the Cross does not reveal the anger and retribution of God, but Love healing the anger and need for retributive violence in us.
You see, just like Adam in the Garden, we tried to blame God for the crucifixion. And like all religious myths, we’ve made Him the angry deity needing appeasement. But the Cross unmasked what we, the angry mob, always do whenever we encounter Pure Love (see “Our Father is not Molech” for my parabolic explanation); it forever exposed the “Cain” raging in us.
As René Girard said, it’s “a founding murder in reverse, which illuminates what has to remain hidden to produce ritual, sacrificial religions.”
And Robert Capon would say that Jesus’ death on the cross is “the announcement of the end of religion.”
Just like what the black hole did to the star in the video clip, the Cross reminds us that Jesus totally destroyed our sin forever!
Jesus didn’t just pay a court fine to a Cosmic Judge. He has obliterated every lie that kept us blinded and hiding from God. He reconciled our fear-based thinking, our wrath, and our enmity…with His unfailing love! He has put the whole misguided and broken race of Adam to death, and put death in the grave! And because of this act of ultimate love, we can “partake of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4)—His resurrection life! Hallelujah!
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again…
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
…19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:14-15, 17, 19 NIV)