God’s Redemptive Plan
However, in an incredible display of grace and mercy, God made a way for us to be forgiven. The message of the Bible is that God himself became a man and suffered a horrible death on the cross—for us. The Apostle Paul explains God’s solution to our sin problem.
“The proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, J. B. Phillips)
Since we were guilty before a holy God, we needed a Savior who could take our punishment upon himself. But our Savior needed to be a man like us, yet morally perfect in every way.
Jesus was the only one qualified because as God he was perfectly righteous, and as man he could become our substitute.
The author of the New Testament Book of Hebrews explains how Jesus is the only person qualified to be our sin sacrifice.
“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying…he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.” (Portions of Hebrews 2:14-18, NLT)
This redemptive plan of God was not just revealed in the New Testament. He announced his plan to send a Savior as far back as in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 3:15).
Moreover, seven centuries before the birth of Jesus (Yeshua), God revealed through the prophet Isaiah that the Messiah would be born as a child. Yet in the same passage the prophet tells us that he is to be called “Mighty God.”
“To us a child is born, to us a son is given.…And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, NIV)
Isaiah also foretold Messiah’s intense suffering and painful death for sin. For example, here are portions of his descriptive prophecy in the 53rd chapter:
“He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins….We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” (Portions of Isaiah 53)
God’s goodness was demonstrated by him sending his Son as the Savior for our sins. Those who say God is uncaring fail to acknowledge the amazing depth of his love for us expressed by Jesus on the cross.
God’s perfect justice is completely satisfied by the death of his Son, Jesus Christ. He took the penalty for our sin upon himself. The curse of sin brought on by the first man, Adam, was nullified by Jesus’ death and resurrection.
All of our sins—no matter how bad they are or have been—are completely paid for by the blood of Christ. And we are cleansed by his blood, and able to enter the presence of God as his holy and blameless children. Paul writes,
“…yet now he has brought you back as his friends…through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” (Colossians 1:22a NLT)
Many wonder why an all-powerful, loving God can’t just forgive us without judging our sins. Why does he demand justice?
Imagine entering a courtroom and you are guilty of murder. As you approach the bench, you realize that the judge is your father. Knowing that he loves you, you immediately begin to plead, “Dad, just let me go!”
With tears in his eyes he responds, “I love you, son, but I’m a judge. I can’t simply let you go.”
Presenting the evidence against you, he bangs the gavel down and declares you guilty. Justice cannot be compromised, at least not by a judge. But because he loves you, he steps down from the bench, takes off the robe, and offers to pay the penalty for you. And in fact, he takes your place in the electric chair.
This is the picture painted by the New Testament. God stepped down into human history, in the person of Jesus Christ, and was crucified on the cross for us. Jesus is not a third-party whipping boy being punished for our sins, but rather he is God himself. God had two choices: to punish us for our sin, or to receive the punishment himself. In Christ, he chose the latter.