The Jesus Plan

Imagine that you are walking down the sidewalk of a busy city street, holding the hand of a child you love. “See those cars racing by?” you say. “Don’t walk out there where they are. Stay with me on the sidewalk and you’ll be safe.”

You keep walking, stepping around delivery carts, dodging people with packages, and hopping over puddles. Then you pass the opening of a dark alleyway. “See that alley?” you say as you point. “Don’t go down there. There may be dangerous people there, people who would hurt you. Stay here on the sidewalk with me.”

As you walk, the child lets go of your hand several times to step over and stare into store windows or at an interesting bug on the ground. Then a bird lands on the ground nearby and the child lets go of your hand to step toward it. You have to step back to avoid a man carrying boxes, and you see the bird hop toward an alley opening. The child follows it. “Wait,” you call out, “don’t go that way.”

But you’re forced to step back again to avoid a woman on a bicycle. You see the bird disappear down the alleyway with the child right behind it. “No!” you shout. You race to the alley as quickly as you can, but the child is nowhere to be seen. You race down the dark passageway, shouting the child’s name as you go. You search behind every dumpster, overturn every box, rattle every locked door.

You race around one more corner and slide to a stop. The child stands against a chain link fence. Between you is a gang of street thugs. One slaps a bat across his palm. Another flicks a knife open and closed. The one with a whirling chain steps toward the child. What do you do? You could:

  • Turn and walk away. After all, you warned the child not to go into the alley.
  • Call for help, then wait to see what happens.
  • Shout at the thugs to leave the child alone and hope that works.
  • Run to rescue the child. Even if it costs your life.

What would you do?

Let me tell you the story of Jesus.

A rescue mission

Most of us have heard the story of Baby Jesus. At Christmastime, we hear songs about a baby born in a manger, about angels singing and wise men visiting. But the Creation story, where we saw that humans were created in the “image of God,” notice what is actually said: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . .’ ” (Genesis 1:26).

Who is God talking to? Who is the “Us”? Because of what is said in other places in the Bible, Christians believe that Jesus was there at Creation, that He was with God; that He was God. In fact, most Christians believe Jesus was the Creator of earth. When His followers asked about God, Jesus taught them about His “Father.” So God the Father and Jesus were both at Creation.

As we saw in the last chapter, there was a rebellion in heaven. When Satan was thrown out, he came to earth. God knew that if humans were going to have free will, then they would have to choose whether to trust Him or listen to Satan. When Adam and Eve chose to join Satan’s rebellion, they were on a path that would lead to pain, sadness, and death. And not just them, but their children and grandchildren, and all their descendants. Humans had wandered off the sidewalk and down the alley, and now they were faced with tragedy and death.

Just as you had options in the story above, God and Jesus had options when humans rebelled. Just as They could have done with Lucifer, They could have wiped out humans and started over. But that choice would show that there was no real freedom.

They could have stood back and let humans suffer and fight and kill until they were extinct. They could have pointed to humans as an example for the rest of the universe: “See what happens when you choose to rebel?” But that choice would have shown how little their relationship to humans meant—it would have shown no real love.

Instead, they chose a rescue mission—a five-part rescue mission. This wouldn’t be quick or easy, but it would be permanent when it was done.

Part one — the promise.

Before they even left the Garden to begin their difficult lives in a world of thorns and hard work, danger and death, Adam and Eve heard God curse the snake and promise that one of Eve’s children would crush him (Genesis 3:15). All through the first part of the Bible—the history of the Hebrew people as they struggled to be faithful followers— God gave promises that someone was coming to rescue them from their troubles, to save them from sin and death.

As the Hebrews fought with other tribes and nations for territory and control of their Promised Land, they prayed for a mighty warrior to save them. Later, when Israel, the land of the Hebrews (or Jews, as they are known now), was controlled by the great armies of Greece and then Rome, they prayed for a great king of their own who would set them free.

Part two — the surprise.

But the real rescue plan took everyone by surprise. Jesus Himself came to earth! By some power beyond our imagination, He was born as a human baby. He would grow up human, live as a human, and show that a human could follow God faithfully.

His life started out like anyone else’s in that day. He lived at home, went to school and worked in the family business. But when the time was right, He left home and began to teach people about God. The things He said about God were very different than what other teachers and church leaders were saying.

  • The teachers of the day said that following God means following a very strict lifestyle. Jesus said that following God means taking care of the poor and those in need.
  • The teachers said that God wants to destroy our enemies. Jesus said that we should love our enemies.
  • They said that God takes care of the good people but hates the bad people. Jesus taught that God loves each of us and that we should love each other.

As Jesus travelled through the countryside, teaching whoever would listen, the crowds that followed Him grew larger and larger. There are many stories of Him healing sick people, curing blindness—He even healed people who had leprosy like Naaman!

The Bible book of Mark tells the story of a man from the town of Capernaum who was paralyzed. He had been to doctors and priests, but they said he was incurable and cursed by God. Then he heard about Jesus. With one last shred of hope, he asked his friends to carry him to where Jesus was teaching.

On that day, Jesus was teaching inside a house. His disciples were sitting around their Master listening, and nearby were a number of religious leaders who had come to spy on Jesus. Outside was an enormous crowd who had come to listen through the open windows and watch to see if Jesus did any more miracles.

The paralyzed man’s friends tried to push their way through the crowd as they carried him on a stretcher, but they couldn’t. Just as they gave up hope of getting to Jesus, the man had an idea. “Carry me up to the roof,” he suggested. “We can go through from there.”

So that’s what they did. In those days, most homes in Capernaum had roofs made of woven grass or palm fronds. The man’s friends carried him up on top of the house, then broke through and lowered his stretcher down until he was lying at Jesus’ feet.

When Jesus saw the man’s pleading eyes, He knew exactly what to say. “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

These words were music to the paralyzed man’s ears. His depression and pain were gone. More than just healed, he was forgiven!

The religious leaders who were there were sure that the paralyzed man was cursed by God and Jesus was doing a terrible thing. “Who does this Jesus think he is? God? This is a sin worthy of death!” they said to themselves.

But Jesus was reading their faces and hearts. “Why are you thinking like that among yourselves?” He asked. “Which is easier, to say to this paralyzed man, ‘You are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand, pick up your stretcher and walk’? But so you will know that I have the authority to forgive sins, I will tell you.” He said to the paralyzed man, “Stand, pick up your stretcher and go home.”

This was the same Voice heard at Creation. Now it recreated the body of a forgiven man. He jumped up from the floor as frisky as a growing boy. With new, strong muscles, he picked up the stretcher like it weighed no more than a feather and walked out through the crowd.

The people stepped back to give him room and whispered to each other, “We have seen strange and wonderful things today” (see Mark 2).

So many of the things Jesus said seemed strange and wonderful. He said two things were most important for anyone who wanted to follow His way: “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself ’ ” (Matthew 22:37–39).

He also taught something so simple but so powerful that it can solve problems in personal relationships, in families, and even in communities. Jesus described it as a simple expression of everything the Bible teaches. He said, “Do to others what you want them to do to you” (see Matthew 7:12).

Treat other people the way we want to be treated! What would the world look like if we all did that?

Part three — the payment.

Jesus’ love as He lived among humans brought joy and peace to them, but there was still a price to be paid. Jesus was the way out of the trap humans had fallen into by joining Satan’s rebellion. He promised that by believing in Him and following His way, they could escape sin and live with Him forever, just as Adam and Eve were meant to do. But Jesus didn’t just use words to promise. He threw His body over us to save us.

Jesus’ life on earth ended when He was arrested by the Jewish religious leaders. They hated Him because the people were following Him instead of listening to them. They told the Romans that Jesus was claiming to be the King of the Jews, and the Romans sent Him to be crucified—hung on a cross of wood until He was dead. Remember, now, that Jesus was God—He could have stopped them at any time. But He didn’t. The Bible story of the crucifixion of Jesus says that the skies turned dark in the middle of the afternoon. It was as if God the Father couldn’t bear to watch. But He didn’t stop the Romans either.

This was the payment for the plan to save humans. At Creation, when God told Adam and Eve that they would die if they ate the fruit, He meant that they would die forever—they would be cut off from the Creator of life. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, God the Father and Jesus set the plan in motion: humans couldn’t live forever while they rebelled, so they aged and died. But if Jesus came and died for all humans, then those who chose to follow His way could once again live forever with God.

Part four — the resurrection.

Jesus died on the cross to pay for the rebellious sins of humans. But He was never in rebellion against God. He hadn’t committed any sins. So on the third day after He was buried, He rose up from the grave! And He said to His followers, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).

All those who believed in God, who followed His path, all the way back to Adam and Eve—all could be resurrected and live again with Jesus in heaven. He promised, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

That was the rescue plan. Adam and Eve got all humans into sin and the rebellion against God. Jesus gave all humans a way out.


When His human children got lost in rebellion, the Creator God didn’t abandon them or wipe them out and start over. He launched a plan to rescue them. Jesus came to show humans what God was really like and to pay the price to bring them back to God.

Instead of only roses, now there were thorns. Instead of only flowers or vegetable plants, now there were weeds. Instead of long life and health, there was sickness and pain and death.

What about part five of the rescue plan? That’s what we’ll discover in the next chapter. Instead of only roses, now there were thorns. Instead of only flowers or vegetable plants, now there were weeds. Instead of long life and health, there was sickness and pain and death.

The content of this post is taken from Beyond Imagination — There is more to life than we know, by John T. Baldwin, L. James Gibson and Jerry D. Thomas.

Previous chapters can be found here.

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