#44 THE RIGHTEOUS FOR THE UNRIGHTEOUS

Jesus Christ, the righteous one, died for us, the unrighteous. Or, as some translations put it, the just for the unjust.

Our English words translate Greek words from the law courts, with the meaning ‘the legally innocent’ and ‘the legally guilty’.

It is an immense and incredible substitution, in which Jesus Christ, who was guilt-free, took upon himself our guilt, and bore the full legal penalty imposed by God on our sin. He put himself in our place under the just verdict of God: declared guilty. With the result that we stand in his place: declared not guilty.

Peter has already referred to this:

‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree’ [1Peter 2:24].

‘By his wounds we have been healed’ [2:24].

By his blood we have been redeemed [1:18,19].

Paul referred to this substitutionary atonement several times:

‘Christ died for the ungodly’ [Romans 5:6].

‘While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ [Romans 5:8].

‘God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ [2Corinthians 5:21].

When Peter, in 1:19 refers to Jesus Christ as ‘a lamb without blemish or defect’ this is a reference to Christ’s perfect, legal innocence, his perfect and complete freedom from personal guilt. This guiltlessness of Christ, the ultimate and final sacrifice for sin, is prophetically and powerfully symbolised in Old Testament ritual:

The Passover, where the lambs and other animals sacrificed had to be ‘without defect’ [Exodus 12:5; Numbers 28:16-19].

The many sacrifices described in Leviticus 1 – 7 required animals ‘without defect’.

The Feasts of Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Tabernacles, which all required the sacrifice of lambs or other animals ‘without defect’ [Leviticus 23:12,18; Numbers 28:31; 29:2,13-36].

The weekly Sabbath offerings, the monthly new moon offerings required animals ‘without defect’ [Numbers 28:9,11].

The Day of Atonement required multiple sacrifices – ‘all without defect’ [Numbers 29:8].

Only the innocent can take upon himself the sin and guilt of the guilty. Only he who has no sin and guilt of his own can bear our sin and guilt.

But what does it mean that he bore our sin and guilt?

It means that -

He bore the full penalty for our sin and guilt.

He bore the total condemnation for our sin and guilt.

He bore the entire punishment for our sin and guilt.

He bore the full fury of the wrath of God.

He bore the prohibition of access to God incurred by our sin and guilt.

He bore the curse imposed because of our sin and guilt.

And it also means, because of this substitutionary, atoning death –

That there is no penalty left for us to bear.

That there is no condemnation left for us to bear.

That there is no punishment left for us to bear.

That there is none of God’s wrath left for us to bear.

That we have unimpeded present and permanent access to God

That we have been set free forever from the curse that separated us from God.

All of this, and more, is the grace, the gift, given by God to all who believe in his Son. Whoever has Jesus Christ, the Son of God, also has, in Christ, this amazing deliverance.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2018