Christ Died For Us! Huh?

We've recently had a series of talks at our Church, on the subject of grace and the death of our Lord Jesus for us. I thought that by putting what I understand into my own words I would cement my thoughts and see if what I believed on this subject hung together logically. I would also see if what I understood fitted in with the rest of my overall belief system or Christian World View!

Theologians nowadays talk of the vicarious death of Jesus on the cross. So what is that and how does this belief change the standard thinking regarding the death of Christ?

Vicarious comes from a latin word and means substitute.

We can perhaps try to understand what is meant in this new, yet old, idea of God forgiving us not through Jesus absorbing the wrath of God but instead through voluntarily taking our sins in His body on the cross.

1 Pet 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Here in these verses, the vicarious suffering of Jesus in verse 21 and the substitutionary death of Jesus in verse 24 are stated as being how God has made us righteous through His Son. He (Jesus) has taken our sins and given us His righteousness.

Peter based his writing on the 'rhema word' of God and on what was written before by Isaiah in chapter 53 of his book.

Isa 53:4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

We see therefore how God prophesied through Isaiah that our Messiah would take up our pain and bear our suffering. He would be pierced (as Jesus was) for our transgressions and would be crushed for our iniquities; because of His punishment we can have peace (shalom) and by His stripes we are healed.

All this fits with the use of the word vicarious; Jesus took all these things as our substitute, voluntarily.

There is though, one section to explain. This is verse 6.

This says that the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
God laid it all on Jesus! Isn't it supposed to be voluntary?

This and other passages which talk of 'ransomed' and being a 'sacrifice' as the 'Lamb of God' can be answered like this....

Sin has a penalty in the law - death. Jesus volunteered to take on this penalty for us. But, when He came to earth Jesus gave up the use of His powers as God to live fully as man guided by Holy Spirit within Him. He lived a perfect life and so was the perfect sinless 'lamb' but as a man He could not lay on Himself the sins that we (all of mankind) had committed.

So God, our heavenly Father, did it, not in wrath but because of His love for us, wanting to carry out the plan agreed between Him, Jesus and Holy Spirit for the reconciliation of mankind to God.

Do bear in mind that it was not God who had moved away from us! From the garden of Eden onwards it was always man who hid and God who called out for fellowship. It was man who had hidden from God because of guilt over sin. Now God has through His love and grace provided a way (the only way) back to fellowship with Him, via His Son, Jesus.

2 Cor 5:19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

God was not distant from His Son at the time of His death. God was IN His Son, reconciling the world to Himself. It wasn't God who killed Jesus it was us. Some Israelites of the time in conjunction with the Roman military government (Jews and Gentiles) actually did the killing, but they were just a subset of all mankind. Speaking of them the apostle Peter said...

Act 3:13-15 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.

So in them we all killed kim, but the good news is that when we repent (change our minds regarding God) and accept Jesus' sacrifice for our sins, we receive full forgiveness and are reconciled to God.

One other wrong idea that you may have heard is that Jesus' death ransomed us by thus paying a ransom to Satan who owned us!

This is just not true. We were created by God and it's God who has ownership over all His creation. One simple question will prove that we were never owned by Satan.

Question - "How long does a thief have to keep stolen goods for them to belong to him?"

Answer - "Stolen goods never become the legal property of the thief who stole them!"

So, Jesus' death was not to pay Satan. Jesus gave up His life, out of love for us, to rescue us from the penalty of death, having taken all our sins on himself. Then, when we accept Jesus' voluntary sacrifice of His life for us, we can take advantage of what Jesus has done for us and be given a new spirit. We also have Holy Spirit come to live in us, as He lived in Jesus, to renew our minds and help us grow to be like Jesus when He was alive on the earth.

Don't you just love it when a God plan comes together!

Best wishes for Grace and the Peace of Jesus.


Another thought....

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