Did Jesus die for me?

Placing his hand on Barabbas' shoulder, the Jerusalem jailor pointed to a hill some distance away and inquired of his high-profile prisoner, “Do you see yonder cross?”

The condemned man looked. He saw it - and spoke. “Yes, I see it. Three crosses?”

“Yes, Barabbas, and that centre cross is yours; it was made for you; you were to have hung from it and died upon it this morning.”

Slowly the clouded mind of Barabbas began to clear. His throat bulged. Hardened criminal though he was, he began to cry. “For me ... dying for me ... taking my place. ... I can’t understand it. I don’t know why He did it. But He is doing it - and I can’t help but believe it. Jesus is really and truly dying for me!”

Not only for Barabbas either - for that cross was as truly ours as it was his. Jesus died in our place; He died bearing our sins; He died enduring the wrath of God that was our due!

With Charles Wesley we can exclaim:

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldest die for me?

Substitution - It's Explanation

We are all well aware of what a substitute is. It is a person who takes our place and pays our cost.

On Calvary, we are faced with “The greatest display of love this world has ever known: a sinless man laying down His life for His avowed and determined enemies!” There we see ‘Jesus Christ - My Substitute’ ... taking my place and paying my cost!

Why the need? Why was it necessary for Jesus to act for us?

Simple answer: because we have sinned - our sin deserves punishment - the only appropriate punishment for sin is eternal wrath (Romans 3:8 includes us when it speaks of those “whose damnation is just”) ... and if we are ever going to escape the damnation of hell and the lake of fire, then we need Jesus to take our place and, as our Substitute, pay a price we could never pay!

On Calvary, our Lord Jesus Christ fell a victim, not merely to the wrath of men, but UNDER THE WRATH OF GOD.

The prophecy of Zechariah 13:7 comes into its own at the cross: “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd ... .”

That little word “awake” suggests that the sword of Jehovah had been sleeping until this hour - that His justice had not been fully called into action yet - that His power to smite had not been revealed in the fulness of its strength before this time.

That is remarkable, because that same sword of divine justice had:

Could this sword of the Lord not have been described as incredibly awake on each of those occasions?

No! All of these acts of judgment had been performed when that sword was only ‘tossing from side to side, merely stirring, in its sleep’!

But now, with Christ on the cross, Jehovah commands that sword: “Stop sleeping! Human sin has stirred you many a time before, but I have restrained you. Not now. Rise out of your scabbard, O sword: the Victim is before you! ... Awake!”

That sword came forth and descended with flaming blade upon the back, head, heart and soul of that wondrous God-man on whom the Lord had laid the iniquity of us all!

Jehovah bade His sword awake,
O Christ, it woke ‘gainst Thee!
Thy blood the flaming blade must slake,
Thy heart its sheath must be.
All for my sake, my peace to make:
Now sleeps that sword for me

.

What wounds that sword of divine Justice inflicted!

The great Hebrew scholar, Delitzsch, commenting on the words used to describe Messiah's physical suffering in Isaiah 53:5, says, “There are no stronger terms in the language than are here used to signify the extremity of the sufferer’s affliction.”

Wounded for me, wounded for me,
There on the cross He was wounded for me;
Gone my transgressions and now I am free,
All because Jesus was wounded for me.

This is the Explanation of Substitution: Jesus Christ, God’s well-beloved, only begotten and eternal Son, bearing the penalty due to my sin, ... suffered shame, reproach, buffeting, false accusations and a terrible death - for me (cf. Galatians 2:20).

Substitution - It's Effects

The fact that Jesus Christ has died as our Substitute opens up the way for us to be (a) RECONCILED to God.

A picture was painted by the Royal Corps of Signals depicting an incident during World War I. A signaller, unarmed, lying dead in No-Man’s-Land. He had been sent out to repair a cable that had been snapped by shell-fire - sent out to restore the interrupted contact. The picture shows him lying dead in the fulfilment of his task, holding together, in his stiffening hands, the broken ends, holding them in contact. Beneath the picture is the one word -“Through!”

That is quite a graphic picture of what Christ Jesus did on Calvary.

Sin cuts the contact between man and God. It costs us the presence and favour of God. But Christ’s work on Calvary restores communications between us. Stretching Himself on the cross, His arms extended wide, He took on the one side, the hand of a holy God and, on the other, the hand of guilty man - and brought them both together. The Bible assures me that Christ Jesus has “got us through” (cf. 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).

Another result of Christ's substitution is (b) THE REMOVAL OF WRATH.

The salvation that was purchased for his soul on Calvary brings the sinner a complete deliverance from the punishment of the Almighty. It has been said: “Salvation sends the prisoner out of court completely cleared.”

This Book tells me that, because Jesus Christ the Lord has taken my place, borne the load of my sin for me, and died for me ... then -

Payment God will not twice demand First at my bleeding Surety’s hand And then again at mine!

The wrath of God, that once hung over me like the blackest of black clouds (for I was under condemnation and the sentence of death and damnation), is now removed! (cf. Isaiah 12:1; John 3:18; Romans 8:1,33&34).

No condemnation now I dread,
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine;
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ, my own!

Substitution - It's Embrace

I may speak with joy upon this truth of Christ’s substitutionary death. I may emphasise the glorious reality of this doctrine that Christ died “the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.”

You may not disagree - dispute - deride - despise this truth ... but that is not enough! In fact, you may be fully convinced that Jesus can save you.

However, you can never know the personal value of having Christ as your Substitute; you can never rise and say with joy, “He died an atoning death for me,” until you:

Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude!
None but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good!

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