I've heard two very good illustrations over the last couple of weeks which I would like to share with the world.
The first I heard at my home church in Leicester, Goodwood, which is from a book on worship by Stuart Townsend. It's an illustration on how a Christian's life should be, stemming from what God looks for in a worshipper, compared to how we often see worship. Like a stick of seaside rock that has lettering printed throughout, we should live our lives with Jesus printed throughout. We shouldn't be just a stick of rock with a wrapper on, labelled as a Christian, but have Jesus throughout our lives in everything we do.
The next illustration I'd like to share was heard at the UCCF Forum weekend I went on. A boy wants a toy boat to ride in the local water expanse (be it the sea, lake, Brayford Pool, whatever) and so he gets to work making one. Finally, he makes his boat, his masterpiece, which he is very proud of and set it off in the water. It is perfect and is floating along absolutley finely but all of a sudden it goes missing. The boy loved the boat so much and would do anything to get it back. One day soon, he hears that in the local bits and bobs shop has appeared his exact boat! The boy ventures out to this shop: 'That's my boat, which I made and I love it! It floated away the other day...'. The shopkeeper replies 'It floated away to me. If you want it back, then you'll have to pay up for it' The boy loved his creation so much and, even though he didn't owe it anything and it was created by himself, he needed to have it back. He paid up every penny that he had and left the shop with the boat back in his posession.
This isn't a like for like illustration but it goes to show a little bit into why Jesus had to die for us. The little boy represents Jesus and we are represented by the boat. We were created by Jesus (all things were created by Him and for Him (Col 1:16)) and we were very well created (Genesis 1:31). We were loved by Him dearly but we went astray to sin. I guess the shopkeeper could be seen as representing sin, but the main point is that, through His love for us, Jesus ventured out to the Earth in an effort to buy us back. We belong to Him, for we were created by Him, but we went astray and Jesus had to pay the price to get us back. The price was everything he had on Earth; his life. But Jesus overcame death and bought us back, as unfair as it was that He had to.