Before He ever created us, God knew we would rebel against Him in sin. Before Adam took his first breath, Jesus could see the cross. God still chose to create us and love us. When humanity sinned or fell, our sin brought death into the world, both physical and spiritual. Once fallen, we couldn’t be with God because of our sin. We also couldn’t undo or make up for what we had done. It was impossible for us to save ourselves.
In Romans, Paul wrote, “There is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (3:22–26) We have all sinned and need Jesus’ salvation.
The salvation Jesus brought for us is made up of both mercy and grace. Mercy means we don’t get what we deserve—the just punishment for our sin. Grace means we get what we don’t deserve—salvation through Christ. Once we’re saved, we move from being enemies of God to children of God. In our salvation, God gives us all the benefits and privileges of being His children. At the cross, Christ served as our mediator. And exchange took place: Christ took on all our sin and guilt. As a result, He gave us His righteousness. Now, when God looks at you, He no longer sees your sin; He sees the very righteousness and blamelessness of Christ. First Timothy 2:5–6 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people” (NIV).
Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,” willingly gave up the glories of heaven to come to a broken world and a brutal cross to save us (Hebrews 12:2). Paul described Christ’s humility, writing, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6–8). Jesus had joy because He knew the story wouldn’t end at the cross. Christ came from heaven with the purpose of saving us, and it brought Him joy.