Jesus Came To Die

The Lost Gospel of Immanuel

The Good News Club reminds children every lesson that Jesus “died” to take the punishment for their sins. Lost in the tragedy and imputed shame of that message is the concept that Jesus represented God coming to live with humanity. What else would any young child want?

The neglected concept of Immanuel: “God With Us”

Matthew 1:22-23 describes Jesus as “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” Philippians 2:6-7 describes Jesus as one who, though “being in very nature God … made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Hebrews 2:14 (NIV) states that “[s]ince the children have flesh and blood, [Jesus] too shared in their humanity….” But those concepts are rarely found in Good News Club’s lesson plans. “Immanuel” is mentioned only once, in a marginal comment.

The “Good News” is that Jesus came to die to take a punishment God insisted on exacting for sin!

According to the Good News Club, Jesus came for one reason, and one reason only: to die to take the punishment for sin. In Elijah: Prophet of the Living God, Good News Club warns: “You need to believe that Jesus came to die for you, too. That is the reason Jesus came to Earth.” (p47). In both Life of Christ 3 and Moses: The Lawgiver, Good News Club asks: “Why did God send His Son into the world?” and both answer the question the same way “Jesus came to die for your sins…. That is the reason Jesus came to Earth.” (p23 & p46, respectively). Beginnings says “He came from Heaven to die for your sin.” (p14). Patriarchs says Jesus “came to take your punishment…” (p10). Life of Christ 1 says God “knew you would need someone to pay for your sin. That’s why He sent His Son to Earth” (p23) and “He came to die for the wrong things you have done.” (p34). Esther says “He came to take away your sins.” (p46).

Indeed, according to the Good News Club, “The good news is that Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment you and I deserve for our sin.” Elijah: Prophet of the Living God, p24.

Other neglected themes

In its obsessive pre-occupation with obedience, sin and punishment, Good News Club misses many of the most inspiring themes Christianity has to offer, including:

  • that God is not far from humanity (Acts 17:27)
  • that all of mankind “are his offspring” and “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28)
  • that Jesus came to show people that God was a “friend of sinners” (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34), not – as the Pharisees were characterized as insisting – a punishment-obsessed holy deity who could tolerate no sin and favored a “chosen” people.
  • that God was so desiring of intimacy that Jesus invoked the provocative metaphors of being a spring of living water (John 4:9-11) and the bread of life – a God so intimate he wanted humanity’s precious souls to figuratively eat and drink of him (John 6:35-58); and
  • that those who could not see God in this intimate, personal way did not know God at all (Gospel of John)

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