​Viewing Jesus’ Death Differently

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I am reading a book that asked an interesting question. He asked how we view Christ’s death on the cross. Do we see it as God punishing Christ for our sins or do we see it as a payment for something we owe?

I began to think about this. There are times I have heard myself say and sometimes others, “Christ was punished for my sins.” As I read the book my mind and thoughts about Christ death has changed somewhat. Let me explain.

We have sinned all of us; none of us has ever not sinned. Romans 3:23 says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” That means we are guilty. We have done wrong and we are guilty. Since we are guilty there are consequences to be paid. God did not send Christ to punish Him for our sins but to step in and to pay for our sins. He stepped in and paid our debt.

For instance I am driving down the highway and I speed. I am pulled over and the Policeman comes up and says to me I was speeding I broke the law. Chances are I am guilty of that crime. Now because I am guilty there are consequences to pay. So, the kind policeman that he is gives me a ticket. I get ready to pay my ticket and John Doe steps up and says, “No, don’t pay this. I will pay it for you. I want to do this for you so you don’t have to worry about paying it. This is something I want to do for you.” He proceeds to open up his checkbook and pays the fine. I am shocked that some guy is stepping up and paying what I owe. I am probably going to try to find ways to pay Him back. It may be through kind words, it may be through kind deeds and it may be telling others what this man did for me. If I don’t know this man I may even take the time to hunt him up on the computer or talk to others who know Him so I can just see who this guy is. I am forever grateful to him.

Let’s take it one step farther. Let’s say I committed a really bad crime; one that if I am caught I can go to jail or prison and spend a really long time there. So, once again I am found out about and the police show up at my door ready to arrest me. Once again John Doe shows up and says I am here for you to take me. I am going to pay for her mistake. I will do jail time so she can carry on with her life. He insists. (Now in reality the police won’t take him, but for our story He does). So, the police take him and John Doe pays my debt. Once again I am in awe of what John Doe has done for me. Once again I will do whatever I can to tell others what He did for me. I will say, “Hey, I messed up. I was found guilty and I was supposed to pay up, but John Doe stepped in and paid my debt for me.” I think for me (maybe not all) and I hope for some of my friends that would wake us up a bit, we would look at our lives and go, “ooops I made a mistake and someone else is willing to pay for it. I think I need to get my life together and show John Doe how appreciative I am of him and live a better life.” I would like for John Doe to look at my life and say to himself, “It was worth it. She turned her life around. I am glad I did it.” I would hate to disappoint John Doe.

In simple terms that’s what Christ did for us. We messed up and He stepped up and paid our debt. It wasn’t punishment it was a token of God’s love to us. “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 God sent His only Son not as punishment, but because He loved us enough to save us from the mistakes we make and to save us from the consequences that are due to us.

The part that we are responsible for is the “whoever believes in Him”. Back to our examples above; if John Doe steps up for me and offers to pay my debt don’t you think I am going to think this guy is pretty special? People may come with horrible stories about John Doe, but all I can see is the good he did for me and I am going to believe in Him. That’s what Christ wants from us. The Pharisees tried to put Christ down and Satan tried to pull Him away, but He knew what He was called to do and He did it for you and me. Because of what He did for me I am going to believe in Him and not the crazy stories I hear about Him.

Just as I want John Doe to think I was worth saving I want Christ to think I am worth saving. How do I do that? By believing in Him, sharing what He did for me with others and to live a life that is worthy of His sacrifice for me. I want to study and just see who this Christ is that He would die for someone as guilty as me. I want to praise Him and worship Him. I want to live for Him. You see John Doe and Christ gave up their lives so I might go ahead and live. By doing that I should step in and live the life that Christ would have led if He hadn’t taken my place. I can’t invite John Doe into my life because he’s human, but I can ask Christ to come into my life and use my life as if it was His own; doing those things He would have done.

Who am I that Christ stepped up and paid my debt? I don’t know about you, but these thoughts make me wonder why I am so special. I am in awe of what He has done for me. Thinking about this more as a debt that He paid for me instead of Him being punished for my sins changes me.

I know I am human and I will continue to mess up, but the great thing is the consequences of my sinning have already been paid in full. I must try harder not to sin and to live as if Christ really is living in me.

Dear God: thank you for sending your Son to die for me. Thank you He was willing to step up and pay my debt that I owed. I want Him to live more fully in me and I want to live the kind of life He would have lived if He hadn’t sacrificed His life for me. Help me as I share with others what He did for me. As He looks at my life I want Him to be glad He sacrificed His life for me. I don’t want to disappoint Him; although I know there will be days I will. When I do help me not to beat myself up, but to ask for forgiveness and to move on striving to do better. Thank you for your love, grace and mercy. Amen.






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