You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. – 1 John 3:5
When we think about the Lord Jesus Christ and especially about His death on that cross on Calvary’s hill, what is its purpose? Is it just something about which we sentimentalise? What does it represent to us? We have to ask, Why was the Son of God born into this world as a baby in Bethlehem? What is the meaning of the Incarnation? Why did He ever leaves the courts of heaven and come in that way into this world? Then, why did He spend His life as He did those first thirty years? What is the meaning of His preaching and His teaching and His miracles? What is the purpose of His life here on earth, and above all, why that cross? Why this manifestation and demonstration; why the burial and the rising again and the appearance and the Ascension? What is the explanation of it all?
That is the question that John answers here, and let me first put the answer in its negative form. Our Lord did not only come to give us a revelation of God, though that is a part of the purpose. He said, ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father’ (John 14:9), and we also read, ‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him’ (John 1:18). But that is not all, though He has indeed revealed the Father and has come to do that. In the same way, He has not only come to teach us about God. There is incomparable teaching here, such as the world has never known before and has not known since, but He did not come only to do that. There is also, of course, the example of His life, a matchless one, but He has not come only to give us an example of how we should live in this world. He is not just a teacher or a moral exemplar; He has not come to give us some kind of picture as to the nature and being of God. All that is there, but that is not the real reason, says John.
He has really come, he says, because of our sins, because of the predicament and the position of men and women, because of this whole question of the law. He has not come only to instruct us and to give us encouragement in our endeavor and a great example. No, there is a fundamental problem at the back of it all, and that is our relationship to God in the light of God’s holy law. We are under the law, and He has really come because of that. ‘Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.’ So it is only as we understand this whole question of sin in terms of law that we can possibly understand why He came and especially why He ever went to that cruel death upon the cross. He came, as the New Testament tells us everywhere, because in a sense He had to come if we were to be delivered. He came because there was no other way whereby we could be redeemed and rescued. He came ‘to seek and to save that which was lost’ (Luke 19:10). He came because of this whole question of what sin has done to us and the position in which it has landed us with respect to God and His holy law.
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981), Life in Christ, 309-10.
Page CXVI – How Deep the Father’s Love