Whom did Jesus die for? As Christians, we believe Jesus died for the world. We believe this because of John 3:16, which says, for so has God loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. What if we have misunderstood what John is trying to tell us? The only way we can know for sure is to ask what John meant with the “the world”?
In 2021, “the world” refers to the entirety of humanity. “The world” is every man, woman, and child who lives on this planet. When John lived, the Greek word for “the world” was kosmos. There are several different ways to translate “kosmos,” all dependent upon the context. One way of translating kosmos is “the world,” and the other is order. We get the word cosmetics from the Greek word kosmos because cosmetics bring order to the face.
In Matthew 15:24, Jesus says, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel – the Jews.” Here Jesus says He did not come for “the world”; He came only for the Jews. Why did He say He had come only for the Jews? Because back in Old Testament times, Israel was divided into two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Israel in the north and the Kingdom of Judah in the south. In Ezekiel and Jeremiah, Yehovah divorces Himself from Israel in the north and scatters them worldwide as a punishment for their sins. In the same verses, He promises this divorce will not last forever, for there will come a day when Yehovah will gather Israel and Judah into one Kingdom again. There will come a day when He will deliver Israel and call them back to the promised land. But to be able to do so, He would have to remarry His lost bride.
Israel had been unfaithful to Yehovah, and this was the cause of the divorce. Yehovah’s law, the law of Moses, says it is an abomination for a husband to remarry his unfaithful wife. In Romans, Paul the Apostle says if a woman is unfaithful to her husband and her husband dies, she will no longer be called an adulteress. His death has set her free from the law, and she is now free to remarry again. The only way for Israel to remarry Yehovah would be if Yehovah died a physical death. Then and only then would Israel no longer be called an adulteress, and she would be free to remarry.
Yehovah promised Abraham descendants; He promised the divorce would not last forever. The only way to fulfill His promise was to suffer and die so Israel would no longer be called an adulteress. But if Yehovah stayed dead, Israel would have no one to remarry. But because Yehovah raised Jesus from the dead, Israel could now remarry Yehovah without being an adulteress. But to make sure that Israel would now understand how to be married to Yehovah, He first spent three and a half years teaching Israel how to love her husband by teaching her how to obey the law of Moses.
This is why Jesus says He was only sent for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He came to teach Israel how to love Yehovah and then die on a cross to free Yehovah from the law’s curse, which prohibited Him from remarrying His bride. He was raised from the dead, so now Israel could remarry her groom without being an adulteress.
Do you remember how Israel was divided into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah?
In the book of Esther, Mordechai Esther’s uncle is said to be from the tribe of Benjamin. But because he worshiped the God of Israel, He is also said to be a Jew. In Isaiah 56, and Romans 2, Yehovah says every gentile and foreigner who wishes to serve the God of Israel must never say, “Yehovah has separated me from His people.” So if you join yourself to the God of Israel by accepting Jesus, it is a sin to say, “Yehovah has separated me from His people.” When you accepted Jesus, you became a worshiper of Yehovah and a Jew.
So what the Bible is trying to tell us is this; every worshiper of the God of Israel is a Jew, but they are not all from the tribe of Judah. Every member of the tribe of Judah is a Jew, but they are not all a worshiper of Yehovah, so they are not all Jews.
Jesus died for all those who wish to join themselves to Yehovah to become a Jew. This is why Jesus died only for the Jews, but not only for the Jews from the tribe of Judah. Every individual on planet earth has a standing invitation from Yehovah to become a Jew. The only thing you have to do is repent from lawlessness to law and become reconciled to Yehovah by faith in the cross.
John 3:16 is best translated as “For so has God loved order that He gave His one and only Son to that whoever obeys Him will have eternal life.”
Do you want order and completeness in your soul?
Today, choose to repent from lawlessness and chaos to law and order and become reconciled to Yehovah by the cross. Then you will become a Jew. Yehovah will respond to your choice by giving your Shalom in your soul and eternal life when you die. Then and only then can you truly say, Jesus died for me.