Jesus rescues is a popular saying on bumper stickers, sports event placards, and even banners flown over the sky by small aeroplanes. Regrettably, few people who hear the statement "Jesus saves" fully comprehend what it means. Those two words are brimming with great power and truth.
Jesus is the Redeemer, but who is Jesus?
The majority of people believe that Jesus was a man who lived in Israel approximately 2,000 years ago. Almost every faith on the planet regards Jesus as a wise teacher and/or prophet. And, while Jesus was unquestionably a wonderful teacher and prophet, those job definitions do not adequately convey who Jesus is or how or why Jesus saves. Jesus is God manifested in human form (John 1:1, 14). He came to Earth in the person of Jesus Christ as a true human being (1 John 4:2) in order to save us. That begs the following question: why do we require salvation?
Jesus saves, so why do we require salvation?
According to the Bible, every human being who has ever lived has sinned (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23). To sin is to act in any way that opposes God's perfect and holy character, whether in thought, word, or deed. We are separated from God and deserve God's punishment as a result of our sin (John 3:18, 36). Because God is totally righteous, He cannot tolerate sin going unpunished. Due to the infinite and eternal nature of God, every sin is ultimately directed against Him (Psalm 51:4), therefore only an endless and eternal retribution is adequate. The only reasonable retribution for sin is eternal death—separation from God. That is why we must be rescued.
Jesus rescues, but how?
Because we have sinned against an infinite God, either a finite person (each of us) must suffer an endless period of time for our sins, or an infinite Person (Jesus) must pay for our sins once. There is no alternative. By dying in our place, Jesus redeems us. Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for us, paying the infinite and eternal penalty that only He could pay (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2). Jesus bore our just punishment in order to save us from an eternal separation from God. Jesus laid down His life for us (John 15:13), paying the punishment we had incurred but were unable to pay. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, demonstrating that His death was sufficient to atone for our sins and that His life overcomes death in our place (1 Corinthians 15).
Jesus saves, but from whom?
Jesus saves everyone who accepts His gift of salvation via faith. Jesus saves everyone who abandon self-salvation and place their whole reliance in His sacrifice alone as the price for sin (John 3:16; Acts 16:31). Although Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient to atone for all humanity's sins, His gift of salvation is only available via faith (John 1:12). We must have faith in Him.