Why would He do that?
“But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
–Isaiah 53:5-6, the prophecy of what the Christ would do to bring us forgiveness
I once heard a pastor tell his story of a conversation with a muslim man seated next to him on a plane. They talked about themselves and what they do for a living, and the muslim man was shocked when the pastor mentioned, rather casually, that he knows the Lord.
“You KNOW the God?!?” the man asked the pastor incredulously.
“Yes, through His word, through His Son, and by His Spirit, we can know God personally.”
“I just don’t see how that is possible for us to know a holy God,” the man said.
“Well, there is one thing that gets in the way of someone knowing a holy God. Let me ask you this question about yourself: Do you ever sin?”
The man looked down at his feet, his face growing flushed with embarrassment. After a moment of silence, he answered the question. “Yes, I sin. In fact, the reason I was so embarrassed by the question is because I am traveling today to visit another woman for an affair. My wife doesn’t know. I know it’s wrong, but it’s what I want.”
“And what,” the pastor asked, “do you think the God who made us will do to you for what you’re about to do?”
“I hope He will forgive me for it.”
Then the rather obvious question from the pastor: “Forgive you? Why would He do that?”
That was a question the man had no answer for. You can already tell the reason. Because in Islam, and indeed, anywhere outside of biblical faith, there really is no good reason for God to forgive any of us for any sin we commit. In the passage quoted above, we read God’s evaluation of humanity: “All we like sheep have gone astray.” The entire human race messed up. All together we turned our backs on a holy Creator who had a right to our obedience. And lest any of us hope we can find a way not to share in the guilt upon everyone else, God then shows you and me our individual guilt: “We have turned, every one, to his own way.” That means it isn’t just humanity as a whole—it’s you and I as individual persons. You personally are a sinner. You personally are in danger of God’s judgment for your sins. And like the man on the plane was realizing, there was no reason he could hope for forgiveness.
That’s where God came up with the solution. Christ Jesus “was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed…. and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (From Isaiah 53)
Your guilt and mine were placed on the holy Son of God on the cross, where He absorbed all of the punishment for every wrong in your life, and died in your place for you. Because He was sacrificed in our place, we can be forgiven and have peace with God—indeed a relationship with Him as our Father—by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Why would God forgive? If you don’t believe on His Son, He won’t. But to those who believed on Him, “He gave the right to become children of God,” He tells us in the gospel of John. Like the man on the plane, you have done things that were wrong and offended your Maker. But God loves you and wants to forgive you. Through your faith in His Son, He will.