Let the good times roll! That is a familiar saying where there is lightheartedness and celebration of something good presently occurring or anticipated within the immediate future. Such moments of pleasure and exhilaration are normal and healthy. Everyone desires that such times are frequent and bring enduring happiness. But that is not how life works. Life has it wonderful moments, sad occasions and some experiences that are not wished on anyone. The previous article of Sharing the Word brought to the reader’s attention one of the most horrible moments in human history. There upon a rugged Cross hung the humanity of Christ as a sacrifice for all mankind. A debt that humanity could not pay to a righteous God had been assumed in full by Christ.
The Apostle Paul in writing to Christians in Rome said … “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— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:25-26 NIV). “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8 NIV). God had held off the collection of man’s indebtedness as an act of love, mercy and grace. But the sin debt was still outstanding; mankind was alienated from God. The plan to redeem the human race out from under the penalty of sin could not originate with mankind. It demanded and necessitated a divine effort of One who was innocent to bear the sins of the entire human race and thereby reconcile man to God.
John would introduce God’s remedy for sin … “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV). God would enter the human race and take upon Himself humanity and become the payment for sin. Paul stated … “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them” (2 Cor 5:18-19a NIV). The death on the Cross would be a substitutionary sacrifice for sin as “God [Father] made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21 NIV).
The prophet Isaiah described God’s judgment upon Christ … “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isa 53:4-5 NIV). Jesus’ own words as He bore our sins were noted prophetically by the psalmist … “Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet” (Ps 22:12-16 NIV).
Knowing that the divine plan necessitated the Cross, He willingly took upon Himself the judgment of God with its unimaginable affliction. Though the external circumstances were horrendous, in His inner being He was content with fulfilling the Divine Plan … “who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2b NIV).