Having grown up in the church, I have heard a lot of people talk about salvation as if they know what they are talking about. Odds are they are parroting phrases so as to sound like they know what they are talking about. Most Christians can't articulate very well what they are supposed to believe.
Please don't read this as accusatory: this is my spiritual autobiography. One of the reasons why I study the Bible and go to theology school is so that I can develop a clearer understanding of God's Word. I'll be honest: many times I feel like I don't evangelize because I'm not sure I understand what I say I believe. I absorbed phrases faster then I developed understanding. Anybody else feel like that?
So, when I read this passage of Scripture last week for our assigned reading, light bulbs went off: here is a clearer background explanation of why God took on human flesh and was a firstborn son to Mary and was sacrificed on to redeem us. The whole sacrifice and redemption theme of Christian salvation finds its roots here in the Exodus story.
If you want to understand Christianity, you need to understand the Exodus.
The Message, Exodus 13:11-16
11-13 "When God brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he promised you and your fathers, and turns it over to you, you are to set aside the first birth out of every womb to God. Every first birth from your livestock belongs to God. You can redeem every first birth of a donkey if you want to by substituting a lamb; if you decide not to redeem it, you must break its neck.
13-16 "Redeem every firstborn child among your sons. When the time comes and your son asks you, 'What does this mean?' you tell him, 'God brought us out of Egypt, out of a house of slavery, with a powerful hand. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, God killed every firstborn in Egypt, the firstborn of both humans and animals. That's why I make a sacrifice for every first male birth from the womb to God and redeem every firstborn son.' The observance functions like a sign on your hands or a symbol on the middle of your forehead: God brought us out of Egypt with a powerful hand."
Jesus was a Hebrew, and he came first to the Hebrew people. He was a firstborn son, and he was also referenced as the "lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1). So he is the substituting lamb that God the Father uses to redeem his Firstborn Humanity (us...).
I found this background information fascinating. It better helps me understand why Jesus Christ came, what salvation means, and the implications for what my life is supposed to look like in following Him.