Jesus: Not Your Average Substitute

[Hello Readers, I had something in my head and heart that I wanted to share with you today, but I just haven’t been able to get it into the right words. So, I hope you’ll find this updated post, originally published in October 2010, enriching for your spiritual life today. God bless, Lon]

The gospel tells us the good news of what Jesus did to redeem His followers and to restore them to fellowship with His Father. Today I wanted to remind myself, and you, of the means–the how–of that good news. He accomplished our redemption by taking our place, by replacing us.

Caravaggio's "Crowning with Thorns", 1607

[Caravaggio’s “Crowning with Thorns”, 1607]

He volunteered to sub for us.

Put Me In Coach

We were up at bat, but our prospects were grim. Then God put his hand on our shoulder and sent us back to the bench while Jesus stepped up to the plate for us instead. It was the most monumental act of love that even the infinite mind of God could conceive. And Jesus was not your average substitute. God didn’t send Him into the game because he was just a little faster, a little more rested, a little better hitter. No. Jesus did what we never had a hope of doing. He experienced God’s full penalty for sin–not His, ours–and died, and lived, to tell about it.

The Greatest Exchange

Paul put it this way, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21.

If I can paraphrase: “God made Jesus, who really was perfectly righteous before God, to be a sin offering for us, so that in Jesus we might be declared perfectly righteous by God.”

Theologians call this substitutionary atonement. It means that after living the perfect life God demanded, Jesus traded it all in on us. He lived the life before God that we should have lived, but wouldn’t. And then, on the cross, He exchanged the vindication He deserved for a perfect life, for the condemnation we deserved. And God, having laid our condemnation on His own Son, declared our penalty paid-in-full. And so, we receive a justification from God we don’t deserve.

This is the foundation of Christianity, the foundation of the good news. It’s the means through which God treats guilty sinners like me with both justice and mercy. 

Consider What This Means (selah…)

He was driven out by His people, so we would be escorted in by His God.


He was cast out, exiled, so we would be pursued by love.


He became a vagrant, a wanderer, so we would be truly, eternally at home.


He suffered utter isolation, so we would never be alone.


He was wounded and abused, so we would always be comforted.


He was oppressed without measure, so we would be boundlessly free.


He bore infinite grief, to purchase our eternal joy.


He bore our penalty, so we would share His reward.


He welcomed the cold rejection of men, so we would have the warm welcome of God.


He embraced God’s justice against us, so God’s mercy would embrace us.


He experienced God’s wrath for our sin, so we would experience God’s love for His Son.


While He hung there, He was abandoned by His Father, so we would be adopted by His Father.

If You Have Ears to Hear


One thought on “Jesus: Not Your Average Substitute

  1. Pingback: Why the Tithe Is Obsolete and What to Give Instead « Average Us

Comments are closed.