By Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel
Special to The Texas Catholic
Jesus Christ is the universal redeemer of the world for all ages. The one Jesus Christ, second person of the Holy Trinity, son of God and son of Mary, became a human being to offer Himself out of love for us, to pay for the sins of all human beings and restore us to union with God our creator. From the first books of the Bible to the last book of the Bible, we find that this is God’s plan for the redemption of the world. This plan of God, to restore the human race to himself, and cancel the debt of sin, is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.
The one savior of the world is Jesus Christ. No other thing or person could sufficiently make restitution to God for the rebellion that is sin. Jesus Christ, bearing the divine nature and human nature, alone is the perfect sacrifice capable of atoning for all sin for all time. The letter to the Hebrews tells us that the sacrifices of old, the sacrifices of bulls and goats could never take away sin, only the one perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ was sufficient. In the very beginning, when the angel announced to Joseph that Mary was with child by the Holy Spirit, he was commanded to name the child Jesus because, “He will save his people from their sins.”
Every time we assist at Mass we hear the words, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” We repeat three times before we receive holy Communion, “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” There is great symbolism in those words. Abel in the Old Testament offered a lamb to God and it was accepted as a worthy offering. Abraham offered a lamb in sacrifice in place of Isaac, of his son. Noah offered a lamb in thanksgiving after the flood. The Jews were saved from the angel of death by the blood of a lamb sprinkled on their doors.
Every Jewish family was expected to provide a lamb to offer in sacrifice in the temple in Jerusalem. So when Jesus came to John the Baptist in the river Jordan at the beginning of his public life, John pointed to Jesus and declared, “Look, there is the Lamb of God.” He is the true and perfect lamb who alone is pure enough and good enough for the redemption of the world.
The whole of Jesus’ life—his birth, public life, teaching, miracles, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven—was to fulfill the plan of God to restore us to himself. This was accomplished when God shared in our human nature in the person of Jesus Christ and offered himself in payment for all sin of all time. Through his death on the cross and the pouring out of his blood, Jesus Christ redeemed the world. He reached all the way back in time and into the future, to you and me, and carried the weight of our sins that we might be restored to God. This was the great work of love that Jesus accomplished—the redemption of the world.
The Most Rev. J. Douglas Deshotel is an auxiliary bishop, vicar general and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Dallas.