How Did Christ Dying on the Cross Save Me?

Photo by Alem Sánchez

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, he gave his only Son.

During my journey through Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) as I deepened my understanding and faith I slowly relinquished my skepticism and somewhat antagonistic questions. When I finally stopped trying to poke holes in the Catholic teachings I found that they resonated incredibly well with me. I started implementing all sorts of changes in my life, both big and small, in order to lead my best Catholic life. I was left with only a few major questions about the faith and these I approached with genuine curiosity and a strong desire to grow closer to God. 

One of the main tenets of the church is that Christ died on the cross for our sins. In my Catholic infancy I struggled to wrap my head around this. Even after accepting that Christ was both human and divine as the son of God, how could someone who lived so long ago be able to absolve me of my sins today? How could He have known my mistakes before I’d ever made them? 

I soon discovered that I already had part of the answer. It was the dual nature of Christ that enabled him to take on the sins of the world. He was fully human and fully divine, a true son of God and yet still subject to all the sufferings we experience here on Earth. There is a common misunderstanding among people today about the association between sin and humanity. Many people believe, as I did, that to be human is to sin. However, we are made in the image of God in both body and soul and true humanity is not sinful. God only creates good things and did not create us with original sin. This came later in the Garden of Eden with the fall of Adam and Eve. Our free will enables us to deliberately turn away from God but it is not our sin which makes us human. It is our suffering. Christ was fully human because he was without sin. He shared in all our earthly suffering but was always turning toward God. 

In dying on the cross he took upon himself the condition of our sinfulness. It was God’s love for humanity which led Him to sacrifice His Son for the collective sin of the world as a parent sacrifices for a child. The Holy Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are outside of time. This is where the divinity of Christ plays a part. As a member of the Holy Trinity, when Christ took the sins of the world upon himself, it was not the sins of the world in that instant but all sins throughout all of time. 

Many months later, I’m still trying to find ways to reverence Christ for this ultimate sacrifice. It’s easy to write off every mistake as a learning experience and continue through life with the belief that we’re all generally good people. While this may still be true, upon honest reflection, I can pinpoint moments in my life when I wish I’d made different choices and I know exactly what He died for.