The entire message of the Gospel revolves around one unique historical event: the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. With this single, sovereign act, God offers to us an all-sufficient solution to all the problems of man. A divine exchange took place at the cross and it’s imperative that we understand what it entails and live in its reality.
1. Jesus took our punishment and offers us the reward of His obedience.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Is. 53:6)
The Hebrew word translated as “iniquity” is avon. It stands for our collective rebellion against God and the punishment or evil consequences attached to iniquity. In Leviticus 16:22, concerning the scapegoat released on the day of Atonement, God said:
“The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land.”
The goat symbolically bore not just the iniquities of the Israelites, but also all the consequences of their iniquities. Similarly, Jesus wasn’t guilty of any sin, but God laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Like the scapegoat that prefigured Him, He carried them away so that they might not return again upon us. He endured in our place all the evil consequences that we deserved by divine justice and in exchange, God offers us all the good that was due to the sinless obedience of Christ.
2. Jesus dealt with both sin and sickness.
Isaiah 53:4-6 says “Surely he took up our infirmities [literally, sicknesses] and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed.”
Jesus received the punishment due to our sins that we might have peace with God and He also bore our sicknesses that through His wounds we might be healed. He “bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Pet. 2:24)
3. Jesus took our sins upon Himself that we might receive His righteousness.
Through the sin offerings of the Mosaic law, God showed us the necessity of the shedding of innocent blood and the giving of life to pay the price of sin. This was accomplished once-for-all by the sacrificial, substitutionary death of Jesus. “He poured out His soul unto death” (Is. 53:12). “For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)
4. Jesus died our death that we might receive His life.
The final outcome of sin is death: “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezk. 18:4). Thus, as Jesus became identified with our sin it was inevitable that He should also experience the death that is the outcome of sin. “For the wages [just reward] of sin is death, but the [unearned] gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23)
To all who accept His sacrifice, Jesus said: “I came so that my sheep will have life” (Jn. 10:10b).
5. Jesus became poor with our poverty that we might become rich with His riches.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9)
Jesus became poor on the cross. It was there He was hungry, thirsty, naked and in need of all things. Even after His death, He was buried in a borrowed robe and tomb. These are the features of poverty (Dt. 28:48).
In exchange, God offers to all who believe, a life of abundance exemplified by Jesus: “And God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).
6. Jesus endured our rejection that we might have His acceptance as God’s children.
Spiritual alienation from God came about through the Fall. But this was promised: “The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit – a wife who married young, only to be rejected.” (Is. 54:6) This is seen in the agony of Jesus at the cross when He cried out: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” and He cried again “yielded up His spirit” (Mt. 27:46, 50).
And at that instant, the veil of the temple was torn into two. Sinful man can now have direct fellowship with a holy God. Through the rejection of Christ, God adopted us as His children. “Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Himself … He [God] has made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:5-6).
7. Jesus became a curse at the cross that we might receive the blessings of Abraham by faith.
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law having become a curse for us for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (Gal. 3:13-14).
Through the death of Jesus Christ, God has provided us a release for us from all the curses listed in Deuteronomy 28. We can therefore appropriate the benefits of the sacrifice of Christ to be removed from the shadow of curses into the sunlight of God’s blessings.
As Christians, our response should be a deep appreciation of what Jesus did for us at the cross. We need to thank God ever day for the great exchange that took place at Calvary.