Updated: Aug 18, 2020
A familiar, beloved hymn begins with the words, “Why Did My Savior Come to Earth?” Written by J. G. Dailey in 1892, this hymn asks a very important question. In this series, we will take a closer look at the lyrics of Mr. Dailey’s song.
Why did He drink the bitter cup of sorrow, pain, and woe? Why on the cross be lifted up? Because He loved me so!”
At the beginning of this series, we noticed that Jesus came to earth to preach the gospel to the poor, to set the captives free, to heal the brokenhearted, and to provide recovery of sight to the blind. As we continue to explore this song and the importance of the question it asks, verse two directs our thoughts to the cross, “Why on the cross be lifted up? Because He loved me so!”
It is a good thing to sit down for a few moments and consider the cross of Jesus. How can the importance of the cross be summed up in just a few words? How can the gift of grace and the love outpoured there be described in a few short paragraphs? It seems to almost be an overwhelming task. However, answering the question of why our Savior came to earth is an important question to consider.
In Matthew chapter 27, several miracles are described as Jesus yielded up His spirit on the cross. “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” (Matthew 27:51-53 NKJV)
Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead were events that had tremendous effects on everything we know. At this time, let us spend some time exploring just one of the things mentioned in Matthew 27. Let us consider the temple veil as we think about the access we have through Christ.
In Exodus 26, we find a description of the veil of the tabernacle.
“You shall make a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen. It shall be woven with an artistic design of cherubim. You shall hang it upon the four pillars of acacia wood overlaid with gold. Their hooks shall be gold, upon four sockets of silver. And you shall hang the veil from the clasps. Then you shall bring the ark of the Testimony in there, behind the veil. The veil shall be a divider for you between the holy place and the Most Holy.” (Exodus 26:31-33)
How wonderful it would be to see this beautiful and ornate veil! Besides the beauty of the fine yarns, the acacia wood with overlaid gold, and the bases of silver, the veil served a very important function of dividing the tabernacle into to parts: the holy place and the Most Holy.
Inside the Most Holy place was the ark of the covenant with the golden pot of manna inside, Aaron’s rod and the tables of the covenant God had made with Israel (ref. Hebrews 9:4). This was the place where God would meet and give instructions to the Children of Israel (ref. Exodus 25:22). Once a year, the high priest went behind the veil into the Most Holy place and offered blood for his sins and the sins of the people. It was a special place and the access to it was very limited.
What does the veil have to do with why our Savior came to earth? Remember in Matthew it is recorded that the temple veil was torn from top to bottom at the time of Jesus’ death. This event marked a new beginning, a new covenant—a covenant set in the blood of Christ. The author of Hebrews records these words, ““This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”” (Hebrews 10:16-17)
Why did my Savior come to earth? He came so we could have access to the Father!
Before—the temple veil limited access to the Father (only the high priest was allowed in once a year).
After—Christ came as High Priest with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands. (ref. Hebrews 9:11)
Before—the high priest took the blood of animals once a year to offer for forgiveness of sins.
After—Christ entered, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His blood (ref. Hebrews 9:12). His was a sacrifice that did not need to be repeated year after year. His sacrifice was “once for all.” (ref. Hebrews 9:12).
We now have access to the Father through the sacrifice of our Lord and Christ who is our High Priest and who serves continually. Jesus serves as Mediator to the Father on our behalf. We can now “…come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (ref. Hebrews 4:16) Whereas in times past people were limited to the presence of God, today through Christ we gain access to His presence!
Why did my Savior come to earth? Why on the cross be lifted up?
So that through Him we can have access to the Father, because He loved me so!
It is important to understand that former things such as the temple and the priestly sacrifices were just copies of the things in heaven. In Hebrews 9: 23-25 we read, “Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another”.