Summary: Four declarations of the cross; wrath is assuaged, forgiveness is offered, holiness is imparted, love is revealed.
Good Friday’s Cross
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
There is a Puritan writer of centuries past who wrote a multi-volume theology book on this single verse. His premise and objective throughout the work was to prove that this verse did not mean “the whole world” but that it taught “limited atonement” – that God’s sacrifice of His son was designed to save only the elect.
Well, without being too sarcastic, I can see why that premise would take multi-volumes to justify. This verse is pretty clear that God’s son came to all who would turn to him in repentance and faith.
But it did get me to thinking about the scope and purpose of the cross and this evening I want to share with you four declarations found in the Bible regarding Jesus’s crucifixion
1. THE CROSS WAS GOD’S WAY OF ASSUAGING HIS WRATH (ROMANS 3:25).
“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” (NASB)
Hebrews 2:9 says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
I think it is worth noting that good Bible translations (i.e. KJV, NASB, RSV, and ESV) NEVER declare that Jesus was “punished” for our sins. The NIV (which I consider good and my preferred translation) does on two occasions (Isaiah 53:8 and Romans 3:25) declare this; but it is safe to say these passages could have been translated better.
What the Bible does teach is that Jesus “suffered” for our sins. In fact, it teaches the Christ was a real and meaningful substitute for the punishment of sin. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 the Bible says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Just as an innocent lamb in the Old Testament was offered as a sacrifice “on behalf of” the sinner so Jesus was offered on our behalf. Just as the one offering the sacrifice had to identify with that lamb and could thus draw near to God in worship, so we must personally identify with the sinless Lamb of God so that we can draw near. His vicarious death appeased God’s wrath.
“I Wet My Pants Once Too”
The story is told of a certain 9-year-old who is sitting at his desk in school when all of a sudden there is a puddle between his feet, and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop, because he knows when the boys find out, he’ll never hear the end of it. And when the girls find out, they’ll never speak to him again as long as he lives.
The boy puts his head down and prays this prayer: "Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now will be too late." He looks up from his prayer, and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says he’s been discovered.
As the teacher is coming to snatch him up, a classmate named Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl filled with water. She stumbles and dumps the goldfish bowl in his lap. In the midst of his surprise he quietly prays, "Thank you, Jesus!"
Now, rather than being the object of ridicule, this boy is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. When he comes back to class, all the kids are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. This sympathy is wonderful!
But as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been transferred to Susie. She tries to help, but they refuse her help. They mock her with things like: "You’ve done enough, you klutz!" As the day progresses, the sympathy gets better and better, and the ridicule gets worse and worse.
Finally, at the end of the day, they are waiting at the bus stop. The boy walks over to Susie and whispers, "Susie, you did that on purpose, didn’t you?"
Susie whispers back, "I wet my pants once too."
So let me summarize:
• Just as Suzie took the little boy’s shame and ridicule, Jesus has stood in as a substitute for yours.
• Jesus went to the cross as if He lived your life, so that God could treat you as if you lived His.