The crucifixion of Christ is central and essential to the Christian faith. Without the Cross, there is no Christianity. It seems, however, that as Christians, we tend to affirm the truth that Jesus died for our sins with no amazement or wonder in our voices. Why is it that we can talk about such things in such a nonchalant manner?
It seems that we at many times do not fully grasp what it means for Jesus to actually stand in our place. To understand the gravity of what it means for Jesus to be our substitute, there are a few things we must consider beforehand.
First, we must consider God’s holiness and justice. God is set above all others as the sovereign of the universe, and He is good and just. His justice demands that sin be punished. He is holy, good, and righteous; He cannot look upon sin.
Second, we must consider that we are sinners. The term “sinner” is tossed around a lot and is not taken very seriously, yet it is far more serious than we could ever imagine. In Adam, we fell and thus became covenant breakers.
Adam rebelled against God as our representative; thus, Adam’s fall counted not only for himself but for all of his posterity. This one sin brought the curse of God upon all mankind; yet we sin constantly. Scripture is clear that our standing before God as sinners is nothing short of hopeless (see Ephesians 2:1-3).
Third, we must understand that Christ’s work as substitute was not only in death, but also in life. Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, willingly came to earth and became man out of obedience to His Father.
He kept the law of God that we had broken. Where Adam and all of his descendants failed, Jesus succeeded (see Romans 5:12-21). The covenant that Adam and all that were in him broke, Jesus fulfilled.
It is only when we begin to understand these truths that we will begin to understand the Cross. Jesus was the spotless Lamb that did not deserve to die. He had always perfectly obeyed His Father and lived a life of righteousness and obedience. Yet He went to the Cross, taking all of the horrid sin of God’s people upon Himself as His Father laid it upon Him (see Isaiah 53:4-6).
This was the ultimate act of obedience to His Father (see Philippians 2:8). Bearing our sin, He also bore the curse and wrath of God that we deserved. It is a horrible thing to transgress God’s law and God’s covenant; thus, we deserved nothing short of God’s curse for all of eternity. But by the grace of God, there is One who has taken that curse for us.
He was forsaken by His own Father, and the wrath of God came crashing down upon Him (see Isaiah 53:10). After making this substitutionary atonement for His people, Jesus was raised on the third day demonstrating that His sacrifice was enough and that He had accomplished His mission.
Now that all of this has been done and accomplished, all of those who trust in Jesus and believe upon what He has done are credited with the perfect righteousness that Jesus merited for them (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Just as the sin of God’s people was imputed to Him, so the righteousness of Christ is imputed to every believer.
By faith, Christians are united to Christ and given a righteousness that is so perfect that God’s curse cannot touch them. We dread not that curse because we have One who willingly took it for us. That, my dear friends, is truly and utterly astonishing.
– James Ritchey, Contributing Writer