Friday, April 10, 2009

The Substitute

Why would the Son of God, in anticipating the cross, state that He was "exceeding sorrowful, even unto death" (Matthew 26:38; also see Mark 14:34)? Why would the gospel writers describe Him as sorrowful, troubled, (Matt 26:37, Mark 14:33) and in such agony that "His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground." (Luke 22:44)?

There was no evil scheme that man could devise that could cause this response in Jesus; even though humanity would reveal its wickedness in full force on the day Christ was crucified, He feared no attack His enemies or this world could form against Him.

There is only one explanation for the agony and distress our Lord had concerning His mission and it is not the anticipation of any physical or mental distress men could inflict.

The reason for Christ's anguish was not that He would endure man's evil deeds, but that on the cross He would (and did) pay in full the sin-debt of believers by suffering, as our Substitute, the full measure of God's wrath and punishment for our sins. While the result was joyful the process was mournful, and it was the temporary separation from the Father which caused the Son to be distraught. It was the vicarious payment by the innocent Lamb of the sin--debt elect sinners could never have paid that caused His grief.

Those who deny that He went to the cross for the purpose of paying this debt deny the gospel.

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