In the death of Jesus Christ, we see both the holiness and the love of God.
God hates sin. God loves sinners. Both are true – not one without the other but both together.
Why did Christ die? – so that sin might be punished, so that sinners might be saved.
God hates sin. The Bible tells us that God is so perfectly holy that he cannot look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13). Christ died so that sin might be punished.
God loves sinners. The Bible makes this perfectly clear – “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).
Why did Christ die? – “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).
When we look at the cross of Christ, we are to see both – the love of God for the sinner and the holy (or righteous) anger of God, directed against sin. That is what we are to see when we look at the cross of Christ – the holiness of God and the love of God.
What did God see when he looked down upon the cross of Christ? What did God see when, in holiness and love, when he looked down upon the crucified Christ.
At Christ’s baptism and his transfiguration, God made a declaration – “This is my beloved Son – with whom I am well pleased / hear him (listen to him)! (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5).
At the cross, God looked down from heaven and saw his beloved Son, but he, also, saw something else. He saw our sin laid upon Jesus.
Many years ago, when I first discovered the words of 2 Corinthians 5:21, I wrote in the margin of my Bible, the words, What a gospel!” What are the words of 2 Corinthians 5:21? –
“God made him (Christ) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him (Christ) we might become the righteousness of God.”
It’s wonderful for us – “in him we … become the righteousness of God.” what about Christ? How did he feel when our sin was laid upon him? How did he experience this – our sin being laid upon him?
He experienced it as God-forsakenness: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
When Jesus took our sin upon himself, was he mistaken in feeling that he had been forsaken by God? or Was he really forsaken by God, when our sin was laid upon him? The Bible tells us that it was real. When Christ took our sin himself, he really was forsaken by God.
Why was he forsaken by God? – so that we might be redeemed for God. He took our punishment so that we might receive his salvation.
When Christ died, he was dying for us. Look at him, and say, “It should have been me.” he received the wages of our sin – death, so that we might receive the gift of God – eternal life (Romans 6:23). Only Christ, the sinless Son of God, earned the right to eternal life. For the rest of us, the story is “the wages of sin is death.” Now, here is the good news. Christ shares eternal life with us. He gives it to us. This is grace – the wonderful grace of Jesus.