When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"1 What did he mean? In the Old Testament, God told the people of Israel to sacrifice a lamb to pay for their sin. The problem was that after the lamb was sacrificed, the people of Israel would continue to sin. So even a pure, spotless lamb could not ultimately take away their sin.
When John saw Jesus, he knew Jesus was the true Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world for good. All who would come to Jesus as their Savior could be truly forgiven of their sin. How was this possible? It is just as if you owed $100 and had no money to pay. The penalty for nonpayment is prison. Suddenly, along comes someone who pays your debt for you. They could do it in one of two ways. They could pay the $100; or they could go to prison for you. In either case, you are now free, because someone has taken your place.
That is what Jesus Christ did. Sin has a penalty -- death. Jesus came to earth not just to be a good teacher or the perfect model of love; He came to pay the penalty for our sins. Whether we think our sins are great or small, each of us sinned and deserve to be judged. We do not deserve the perfection of heaven forever.
Jesus Christ, alone, truly deserves to be in heaven forever. Yet He voluntarily chose to come to die for our sins. He lived on earth and did not sin. He was poor, yet did not steal. He was abused, but did not retaliate. He was humiliated, yet He did not hate. He was scorned and ignored, but He responded in love. Because He paid that penalty, we can go free.
Salvation is a gift from God. You cannot earn it. The Bible states, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."2 Salvation is a free gift. Jesus Christ is the only answer for the sins of mankind.