Good Friday

“But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.  We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the LORD has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.”  Isaiah 53:5, 6

“Jesus did not come simply to speak to His people but also to be a sacrifice for them.  He said, “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45).  In John, He promised, ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full…and I lay down my life for the sheep’ (John 10:10, 15).  Christ’s atoning death was not merely exemplar, but it was also sacrificial.  He died in our place as a substitute for our sins (Isa. 53:4-7; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7-10; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).  Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Two, p. 610

“Clearly contained in the many biblical passages on the Atonement is that it is substitutionary:  Christ died in our place, punished for our sins that we might be set free.  Consider the strong arguments in favor of substitutionary atonement.

“First, God’s absolute justice demands a perfect Substitute for us, since He cannot simply overlook sin.  As we have seen He is too holy to even look on sin with approval (Hab. 1:13); God is essentially just and cannot be otherwise, since He is unchanging by nature.

“Second, our total depravity demands a sinless Substitute for our sins, because nothing we can do measures up to God’s standard (Rom. 3:19).  The only way we can enter the eternal presence of an immutable, holy God is by the substitutionary sacrifice of humankind’s perfection: the man Christ Jesus.

“Third, the Old Testament sacrifices imply substitutionary atonement, since in the one offering he laid his hands on the animal, symbolizing a transfer of guilt (Lev. 1:3-4).

“Fourth, Isaiah 53:5-6 speaks explicitly about substitutionary suffering in several phrases: (1) He was pierced for our transgression, (2) He was crushed for our iniquities; (3) the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, (4) In His wounds we are healed, and (5) The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  What Christ did was ‘for’ us, and our sins were laid ‘on him’—substitutionary atonement.

“Fifth, Jesus was presented as the Passover Lamb.  Just as the Old Testament Passover lamb was sacrificed for their sins, even so ‘Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed’ for us (1 Cor. 5:7).  John the Baptist declared: ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29).

“Sixth, Jesus claimed to be a fulfillment of Isaiah 53, which portrays a substitutionary sacrifice.  He said, ‘It is written: And he was numbered with the transgressors; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me.  Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment’ (Luke 22:37).

“Seventh, Jesus presented His death as a ransom (Gk: lutron), which usually meant (in the Greek Old Testament) ‘a deliverance from bondage in exchange for the payment of compensation or the offering of a substitute’ (Mark 10:45).

“Eighth, Christ presented Himself as a consecrated priest and sacrifice: ‘For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified’ (John 17:19).

“Ninth, Christ’s death was ‘for,’ that is, on another’s behalf (John 10:15).

“Tenth, in Christ’s death for us, substitution is explicit (Matthew 20:28).

“Eleventh, expiation (or atoning sacrifice—NIV), used of Christ’s death, implies a substitutionary sacrifice (1 John 2:2).

“Twelfth, and finally, appeasing God’s wrath by Christ’s death implies a substitutionary death.  Paul affirms, ‘God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood’ (Rom. 3:25).

Combined, these arguments present a powerful case for the orthodox concept of a substitutionary atonement.  Christ died in our place:  ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Cor. 5:21). ‘Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God’ (1 Peter 3:18).”Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Three, p. 232-235

 

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