I'm sure you've heard the story
 Of how Jesus loves us so
And how He died to save mankind
 So very long ago.

He bore our sins upon the cross
 And died to set us free—
He paid the cost for all the lost,
 Including you and me.

But why did Jesus have to die?
 What was God's holy plan?
How did His death wipe out our sins?
 It's hard to understand!

If all those sins weren't really His
 Why did He have to pay?
How did our souls end up misplaced?
 Who lost them, anyway?

Can God be truly in control
 When evil keeps on winning?
To answer these and many more,
 Let's start at The Beginning . . .

Long before the earth was young,
 God's heart began to yearn
For a creation He could love
 Which loved Him in return.

He waited for the perfect time
 To weave His perfect plan
By first creating all we see
 And then creating Man.

Knowing of the emptiness
 Man felt when all alone,
He reached inside and made a bride
 From some of Adam's bone.

He gave them both immortal souls
 So they could love forever,
Then gave dominion of the earth
 And beasts of fur and feather.

He gave them both the right to choose
 And make their own decisions,
And when He saw all things were good,
 He set forth some conditions:

God pointed to a clearing
 Where a tree of gnarly wood
Sprouted fruit upon its branches
 Filled with seeds of bad and good.

"Eat freely of the fruits I've made
 But pass this one tree by,—
If you should learn what it conceals
 Then you shall surely die!

"I do not mean this as a threat,
 I'll have no choice, you see—
It would be cruel to let you live
 In sin, eternally."

So Eve and Adam for a time
 Lived very happily;
They fellowshipped each day with God
 And steered clear of that tree.

But one dark day when all alone,
 A hiss called Eve by name;
She turned around to face the sound—
 A Snake, named Satan, came.

"God lied to you," he flicked his tongue,
 "Forbidden Fruit is sweet!
It's quite unfair to put it there
 And tell you not to eat!

"How can you serve a selfish god,
 Who plays such games with you?
Have faith in me! Eat of that tree!
 Have Adam try some too!"

Eve took a bite of fruit despite
 The warning she'd received,
And told Adam the serpent's lie,
 Who, just like her, believed.

He bit into the bitter fruit,
 Then tried to place the blame
Upon the woman God had made
 (The plea was pretty lame).

Got chased them from the garden
 With an angel's flaming sword
Because they chose to hear the snake—
 Not listen to the Lord.

But God did not leave sinful man
 In total separation—
He showed Adam a special way
 Of reconciliation.

A lamb, unblemished, clean and white
 Was offered to the Lord—
By sacrificing one so pure,
 Men's sins could be ignored.

This would be a major part,
 Of God's great future plan
To bridge the gap which lay between
 Himself and fallen man.

The sons and daughters of that pair
 Began to multiply—
Humanity soon filled the earth…
 But things soon went awry.

Once again men chose to hear
 The serpent's sly temptations—
With wicked hearts, men fought with men
 And nations warred with nations.

God had to stop the growth of sin—
 The earth must start anew;
He shook His head with deep regret
 But knew what He must do.

But He decreed some must escape
 Earth's imminent destruction,
So God showed Noah of His plans
 With blueprints for construction.

An ark was needed to preserve
 The best of all creation,—
So Noah and some beasts would take
 A nautical vacation.

Soon the rains began to fall
 And cleansed the evil spawned,
While Noah and his crew survived—
 A brand new day had dawned.

All former things had passed away;
 The earth was fresh and new,
So God relaxed a little while
 While population grew.

Then God required a special group
 For His redemption plan,
But someone had to start things off—
 So He chose Abraham.

"You can't want me!" cried Abraham,
 "I'm old and have no son!
A nation cannot come from me...
 Unless you give me one."

"You'll have a son," God promised him,
 "And vast descendants too,
Because the One who saves mankind,
 Will someday come from you."

As God had said, a son was born—
 The old man was elated!
But when he heard what God said next,
 His heartfelt joy abated.

"Take your son, your only son,
 To lands known as Moriah
And build an altar in the hills
 Complete with knife and fire!

"For I AM He, the Lord your God,
 So listen carefully—
Sacrifice your only son,
 And offer him to me!"

"But Lord!" protested Abraham,
 "Too much you ask of me!
And if I sacrifice my son,
 How can your nation be?"

But God refused to change his mind
 From arguments so bold,
So Abraham went to the hills
 To do what he was told.

With shaking hand he raised the knife
 Above his precious child—
But God reached out and grabbed his arm,
 And with these words, He smiled:

"You have proved, O Abraham,
 That you're the man I need;
You're worthy to begin the line,
 In which I'll plant My Seed.

"You obeyed, despite the pain,
 And faced what you must do—
And though you cannot understand,
 Someday I'll do it too.

"For now," God said, "I'll bide my time,
 And watch earth patiently,
While your descendants multiply,
 Like the sands along the sea."

An eon passed (or maybe two),
 When God resumed His plan—
He'd show the consequence of sin
 To seeds of Abraham.

But first He had to find a man,
 To set His people free,
For they were under Egypt's rule
 And held in slavery.

Moses was the chosen one
 For leader of God's nation,
And freed his people from their fate—
 With heavyweight persuasion!

Later, God and Moses talked
 On Sinai all alone;
God gave him Ten Commandments
 Which were deep inscribed in stone:

"You shall love God with all your heart,
 Don't worship any other,
You shall not murder or tell lies
 About your sis or brother,

Remember well the Sabbath day,
 Don't use my Name in vain,
Don't make your parents feel ashamed
 Or cause them any pain,

You shall not crave your neighbor's stuff,
 Especially his wife. . .
And breaking any of these laws
 Is cause to lose your life.

The price of any sin is death,
 I must judge fair and true,
But now you know the penalty—
 The risk is up to you."

Then God offered this escape:

"There is one way to pay—
 By offering a perfect lamb,
You'll wash your sins away;

 One sacrifice will pay the price
Of everyone's transgressions.
 I'll only ask for payment once!
Now go, and heed My lessons!"

God watched as Moses walked away
 And saw all things were good;
Events were falling into place
 Just as He knew they would.

The Hebrews wandered forty years—
 A total generation!
Then God showed them a Promised Land
 Where they would build His nation.

He watched His people grow in faith
 And thrive in deep tradition,
Until the hour He'd send His Son
 To live His holy mission.

It came upon a midnight clear,
 The wonder of God's plan—
Who could have guessed the Son of God
 Would come like any man?

But Jesus, as the child was named,
 Was different than the rest—
He was a man and yet divine...
 He's God in human flesh!

He came to live a sinless life,
 Which normal men can't do—
He was the Holy Lamb of God
 Who came to make things new.

And although tempted like all men,
 He held fast to the end
And didn't break a single law—
 They didn't even bend!

He taught the people how to love…
 He taught them how to pray…
He told them how to join with God
 If they had gone astray.

He showed how God had given hints
 Of signs which lay ahead,
So men would know Him when He came
 To heal and raise the dead.

"I am the only way to God—
 You must find him through me,
And all He wants from you is love;
 Do this and you'll be free."

He met with teachers of the Law,
 Explaining what they'd learned—
How pleasing God is born of faith,
 Not worked for, bought, or earned,

He taught the spirit of the Law,
 Not rules one must obey,
And how a spotless sacrifice
 Could wash their sins away.

One day, while resting from the sun,
 Jesus asked his friends some questions,
"Who do the people say I am?
 What are their best suggestions?"

"Some say you are a righteous man,
 Some think you're a great teacher,
And then there's some who claim you've come
 As Heaven's greatest preacher."

"I see,"
said Jesus with a smile,
 Then gave his friends a wink,
"But you twelve know me best of all—
 Tell me, what do YOU think?"

"You are the Christ! The Son of God!"
 Roared Peter with conviction;
The others nodded and agreed
 With little contradiction.

"The truth you speak comes straight from God
 And not from other men;
And on that truth I'll build My church
 To bring men home again.

But there are wolves who will insist
 I'm not the one you say—
They'll try to spread the serpent's lies
 And steal my flock away.

But I will hold my children tight
 As Shepherds hold a lamb,
And we shall spend eternity—
 Accept me as I AM."

Then came the fear the end was near
 From hints that Jesus gave—
He spoke of His impending death
 But how He'd beat the grave.

He spoke of how He'd bear men's sins
 And gladly pay their price—
He was the Holy Lamb of God…
 The final sacrifice.

They gathered in an upper room
 In solemn celebration
Of how God set the Hebrews free
 To build His chosen nation.

After supper, wine was poured,
 Unleavened bread was passed,
Then Jesus broke the awful news—
 This meal would be His last.

He blessed the bread and blessed the wine,

 "Remember what I do…
This is my body and my blood
 Which I shall shed for you.

Some men will come for me tonight
 Before too very long
And find me guilty of some crime…
 Although I've done no wrong.

I will be flogged and crucified
 And dark shall cloak the land,
But keep your faith the next three days—
 Then you will understand."

It happened just as He foretold;
 The soldiers came that night
And took the Son of God away,
 Who went without a fight.

They rushed Him through a midnight trial,
 Condemned Him for a lie,
Then led him into Pilate's court,
 Who sentenced Him to die.

They forced the Lord to drag the cross
 On which He'd soon be nailed;
The people mocked and spat at Him,
 "Behold the God that failed!"

But what the people did not see,
 As no man ever could,
That more was being dragged that day,
 Than just a cross of wood.

Upon that cross were things we stole,
 And all the times we lied,
The times we thought it cool to curse,
 Or traded God for pride,
The times we heeded Satan's voice,
 Or made our parents cry…
All these were nailed upon that cross—
 That's why He had to die.

God knew that we could never pay
 The debt of sin we owed,
He knew He'd have to send His Son
 To bear our heavy load.

His sinless life was offered up
 To pay sin's awful price;
Our debt to God was paid in full
 By Jesus' sacrifice.

Three days had passed since Jesus' death
 When it was first discovered
The tomb in which the Savior lay
 Stood empty and uncovered!

At first, his friends were at a loss,
 Then recalled what He'd said:

"He told us he would cheat the grave!"

 "He's risen from the dead!"

"His sacrifice on our behalf
  Has washed us clean and white!"

"Now we can all return to God

 We're blameless in His sight!"

Not another night had passed
 When Jesus did appear!
While some were overcome with joy,
 A few were filled with fear.

He told each one to touch his hands,
 His wounds still stained with red,
To prove He was not just a ghost
 But risen from the dead!

"Blessed are those who have touched
 And seen me with their eyes,
But greater those who have not seen
 Yet seek God's awesome prize."

He left this message for mankind:

"Yes, life brings tribulation,
 But I have overcome the world—
Trust me for your salvation!

"Now I must leave, my Father waits,
 But one day I'll return;
Till then I'll send The Spirit down
 To help you teach and learn."

When it was time for Him to go,
 He had one thing to say:

"I'll always be here at at your side."

…and then He went away.

Today the world is far from good,
 But that's not Jesus' choice;
Too many still obey the snake
 And miss the Savior's voice.

But even with the worst of men,
 He reaches out His hand—
He wants to draw us close to Him,
 And help us understand.

He is the ark that Noah built,
 Who waits with open door
To take us to a safer place
 When storms around us roar.

We're like the Hebrews Moses freed
 From captives they had been,
He wants to set His people free
 From slavery of sin.

God sent His Son to bridge the gap
 We made from all our sinning,
So we can fellowship with God...

 ...Just like in The Beginning.