Lenten Reflections Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi 2012
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53:6-7
Of the array of forensic categories for understanding the atonement, it is the substitutionary idea that draws our attention. Facing Golgatha, we ask why in seeking to understand the necessity of the Savior hanging upon the cross. The answer, it seems, is quite simple; He alone was able to do what we could never do. Jesus alone was able to take the sins of all humanity on His scourged shoulders, bearing up the weight unto death and assuaging the righteous God.
The application is more complex. As Cranfield writes in his commentary on Romans:
God, because in his mercy he willed to forgive sinful men, and, being truly merciful, willed to forgive them righteously, that is, without in any way condoning their sin, purposed to direct against his own very self in the person of his Son the full weight of that righteous wrath which they deserved.
The wrath that we deserve for our heinous sins. The wrath that we deserve for our lack of love for others. The wrath we deserve for the slightest transgression that we dismiss without a thought. The wrath demanded by the perfect holiness of the God we serve. The wrath expressed in love; the great paradox of God placing himself in our position. The love we are challenged to understand;
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Grace and peace to you in the Name of the One who is over all and through all and in all.
image Maurice Koop