For all the stories we know by heart and love to tell, this one takes the cake. Do you know it? And can you tell it?
At the very beginning of time, God was there, and there was nothing else—only God. He spoke, and when he did, he created the universe and everything in it. Then he decided to make a special creation—man. So, God created man and woman. He had a perfect relationship with them. He walked with them, talked with them, and took care of them.
God gave the man and woman a command to never eat fruit from a special tree. They obeyed him, until one day a serpent came to the woman and tempted her to eat from the tree. The woman did eat fruit from the tree and gave some to her husband, who also ate it. They disobeyed God. Disobeying God is called sin. Their sin ruined their relationship with God. They were hopelessly separated from him.
The man and woman had children. Their children had children, and their children had children, until all the earth was filled with people. But, just like the first man and woman, they continued to sin and be separated from God. However, God never forgot his special creation. He graciously chose a man named Abraham whose descendants would be God’s people. God gave them a great law to remind them that they needed God. But the people not only broke God’s law, they worshipped other gods.
God also gave them a way to be forgiven when they broke his law. They could sacrifice a perfect lamb or bull, and the blood would pay the price for their sin. But the people just kept on sinning and making empty sacrifices that weren’t from their hearts. The blood of many animals wasn’t enough to save them.
God also sent special messengers, called prophets, who reminded the people of God’s love. The prophets told the people that God was going to send them a Savior who could free them from sin and death forever. But the people didn’t just ignore the prophets, they even killed many of them.
But God still sent the Savior. The Savior is Jesus Christ, and he is God’s very own Son. He was born so that he would be fully man, but also born of a virgin so that he would not come from the same sinful seed as man. He proved he was the Savior not just because he lived a sinless life, but also because he taught many great things and did many miracles. Some people followed him, but many were jealous of him because he said that he was the only way to God, and that he and God were the same. So the very people that Jesus came to save put him on trial. He was beaten beyond recognition and nailed to a cross until he died. Why did the sinless Savior die? Remember how the blood of many animal sacrifices wasn’t enough to save people when they broke God’s law? Jesus kept the law perfectly, so his blood was a perfect sacrifice, and enough to save anyone who believes in him!
Jesus proved that he can save anyone because after three days he rose again from the dead. He showed himself to his followers, and told them he would soon send them his Spirit to be with them always. When he did send the Holy Spirit, his followers were filled with life and began telling everyone about Jesus the Savior. They also warned people that Jesus is coming again soon, not as a suffering servant but as a conquering King who will judge the world rightly.
Before Jesus ascended to heaven he told a story about a great father. This father had a young son. The son demanded his inheritance and then wasted it in a faraway country on wild living. He quickly ran out of money, plus there was famine in the land, so he ended up slopping pigs and starving. He decided to go home and beg his father to be a hired hand, but along the way his father saw him in the distance and ran to him. He gave him new clothes, shoes, and a ring, and threw a huge party, saying, “My son was lost, but now is found.” The father in this story is like God, who graciously welcomes home his lost children. The son is like me, I’ve wasted my life in a faraway land—but God has welcomed me back. That’s why I’m telling you this story!
So what did you learn about God and people from this story? What must we do in response?