The Divine Exchange

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 scape goat 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 inquities of the Israelites, but also all the consequences of their inquities. 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. Spritual 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” (Gal. 3:13-14). God has provided us a release from all the curses listed in Deuteronomy 28. As Christians, our response should be a deep appreciation of what Jesus did for us at the cross.

The Divinity of Christ

There are two natures of Christ spelled out in Scripture: His Divinity and His Humanity. I will briefly discuss the former here. The divinity of Christ is the nature of Christ that is God, that is, Deity. Evidences of His Deity can be seen in:

1. The Divine Names given to Christ

(a) He is called “the Son of God” about 40 times (Lk. 22:70). That this name, as used of Christ, is a distinctly divine is seen in John 5:18 “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making himself equal to God.”

(b) He is called the “Only unique (or begotten) Son of God.”This occurs 5 times. In Mark 12:6, Jesus made a distinction between the prophets who are servants of God and Himself as “one,” a beloved “Son.”

(c)  He is called “The Alpha and the Omega” Rev 22:12-13. In Rev. 1:8 God said “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” Jesus introduced Himself as “The first and the last; I am he” (Rev. 1:17) just as Yahweh said in the OT: “I the LORD, the first, and with the last.” (Is. 41:4) “Thus saith the LORD I am the first, and I am the last and beside me there is no God.” (Is. 44:6)

(d) He is called “The Holy One” (Acts 3:14). This is the same name God revealed Himself as “for I am God and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee…”(Hosea 11:9).

(e) He is called “The Lord” (Lk. 2:11, Acts 9:19). The title ‘Lord’ is used of men 9 times e.g Acts 16:30, Eph. 4:1, Jn. 12:21 etc, but not at all in the way it is used of Christ. He is spoken of as “the Lord” just as God is (Acts 4:26, 33, Mt. 22:43-45, Phil. 2:11).

(f) He is called “the Lord of all” (Acts 10:36) and “the Lord of Glory” just as Yahweh is “the King of glory” (1 cor. 2:8; Ps. 24:8-10).

(g) He is called “Mighty God” just as God the Father is (Is. 9:6; 10:21; Jer. 32:18; Hab. 1:12); “God” (Jn. 20:28), “God with us” (Mt. 1:23); “our Great God” (Tit. 2:13 RSV) and “God blessed forever” (Rom. 9:5).

2. Divine Attributes

(a) Omnipotence

Jesus had power over diseases, over death, over the winds and seas, over demons; is “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come”; has all things put under His feet and upholds all things by His power (Lk. 4:39, 7:14, Mt. 8:26-27, 16, Eph. 1:20-23 and Heb. 1:3).

(b) Omniscience

Jesus knew men’s lives and secret history and men’s secret thoughts just as God the Father is the only who “alone know the hearts of men” and “search the heart” (jn. 4;16-19, Mk. 2:8, 2 Chr. 6:30, Jer. 17:10). Jesus knew not only men’s present thoughts but also their future choices as well. For example, He knew from the beginning that Judas would betray him (Jn. 6:64). He also knew about God’s acts and other minute details man can’t know (Jn. 1:48, Lk 5:4-6, 22:10-12).

(c) Omnipresence

Although there was a voluntary veiling and laying aside of His exercise of Divine Omniscience (as seen in His humanity), He is present everywhere two or three are gathered in His name; with everyone who goes forth into the world to make disciples  and He was in heaven as He was on earth (Mt. 18:20, 28:20, Jn. 3:13).

(d) Eternity

Jesus is the eternal “Word” of God (Jh 1:1); His “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Mic. 5:2) “And he is before all things, and by Him all things consist” (Col. 1:17). He is “The Everlasting Father” (Is 9:6) who alone had the glory with the Father “before the world was” (Jn. 17:5). He said to the unbelieving Jews: “Before Abraham was, I am” (Jh 8:58).

(e) Immutability

Jesus is unchangeable. He is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8) “You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed but you remain the same” (Heb. 1:12). The same is said of Yahweh (Mal. 3:8)

3. Divine Offices

(a) Creation.

“All things were made by him; and without him was not anything that was made (Jn. 1:3). See also Hebrew 1:10, Colossians 1:16.

(b) Forgiver of Sins

He said to someone “your sins are forgiven” that even the doubters asked “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mk. 2:5-10). He said to another “Thy sins be forgiven” (Lk 7:48). He also taught that sins were against Himself (vs 40-47). The Psalmist said of Yahweh “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned” (Ps. 51:4).

(c) Judgement

Jesus will “judge the quick and the dead” (2Tim. 4:1). He also emphasized the Divine character of this office “Moreover the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son: That all may honor the Son as they honor the Father” (Jn. 5:22-23).

(d) Bestower of Eternal Life.

“I give them [my sheep], eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:28) “For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him (Jn. 17:2).

4. The name of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son are coupled together

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” (2Cor. 13:14)

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19)

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Jas. 1:1)

“Jesus answered and said unto him, if a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and We will come unto him and make our abode with him.” (Jn. 14:23)

5. Various statements, titles and descriptions made by Yahweh in the OT were attributed to Jesus in the NT

(a) In Ps. 102:25-26 YHWH is the One who “laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of [His] hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.” This statement is attributed to Jesus in Heb. 1:10-12.

(b) Just as Yahweh is our “shepherd” and “tends his flock like a shepherd,” Jesus is “the good shepherd,” “the Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls (Ps. 23:1, Is. 40:11, Jn. 10:11, 1 Pt. 2:25).

(c) Is. 60:19 “The LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” This is said of Jesus in Lk. 2:32 “A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

(d) Ps. 50:3-4 says “Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages. He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people.” This is attributed to Christ: “God is just; He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you…This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” (2 Thess. 1:6-7)

(e) Ps. 68:18 “When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious – that you, O LORD God, might dwell there.” This is said of Jesus in Eph. 4:8-9.

(f) In the OT, Yahweh is called “a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” (Is. 8:13-14) In the NT, this is said of Jesus (1 Pt. 2:8). Just as God is “the Rock” in the OT, so also is Jesus called “the Rock” in the NT (Dt. 32:3-4, Ps. 62:1-2, 1 Cor. 10:1-4).

(g) In the OT, God says “I, the LORD, search the heart and examine the mind.” (Jer 17:10, 11:20). In the NT, it is Jesus who does this: “Then all the churches will know that I AM HE who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each one of you according to your deeds.” (Rev. 2:23)

(h) Is. 40:3 speaks of “one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.'” In John 1:23 and Lk. 1:68-76, John the Baptist is presented as the one who prepared the way and the LORD is revealed as Jesus.

(i) In the OT, Isaiah saw “the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” to whom the people were calloused, blind and deaf (Is. 6: 3, 10) while in the NT, John says that Isaiah “saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about Him.” (Jn. 12:37-41)

(j) In the OT, the Israelites spoke “against the LORD” and He sent fiery serpent among them (Num. 21:7). In the NT, we are warned: “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.” (1 Cor. 10:9)

(k) In the OT, Yahweh says: “Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear” (Is. 45:23) while in the NT it says “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:10-11)

(l) Just as God says in the OT: “I will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock…so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.” (Ezk. 34:11-12) In the NT, Jesus says: “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Lk. 19:10)

(m) In the OT, God’s people were commanded: “Do not fear what they fear and do not dread it. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard holy, he is the one you are to fear…” (Is. 8:12-13) In the NT, Christians are commanded: “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart [sanctify] Christ as Lord.” (1 Pet. 3:14-15)

(n) Joel 2:32 says: “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” This is also said of Jesus in Acts 2:21, 4:10-12 and Romans 10:9-15. Just as Yahweh is the “Redeemer” so also is Jesus the “Saviour” (Ps. 78:35, 1 Jn. 4:14).

6. Divine worship given to Christ
(a) The same worship directed to God is also directed “to the Lamb [Jesus]” (Rev. 5:13) “…and twenty elders fell down before the lamb, having every one of them harps…” (5:8)

(b) Jesus accepted without hesitation a worship which godly men and angels rejected. “And they came and held him by the feet and worshipped him” (Mt. 28:9) “And they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Lk. 24:52). Compare this with Acts 10:25-26, Rev. 22:8-9.

(c) Prayer is made to Christ “…with all that in every place call upon the name of Christ our Lord both theirs and ours” (1Cor. 1:2) “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon the Lord, and saying, Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59) “For this thing I besought the LORD thrice…that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor 12:8-9)

From all the divine names, attributes, offices and statements in the Bible, it’s clear that Jesus Christ is a Divine Being, is God.