The Transforming Truth About Calvary (2)
Second, Calvary was vicarious, which means ‘an act undertaken by someone in another’s place.’ Seen through the lens of sentiment or superstition, the cross may affect your emotions but it can’t save your soul. But seen as substitution, the cross can save any soul! Peter writes, ‘He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.’
Had Jesus backed out of Calvary, God would have been forced to sentence us to death for our sins. Instead, as our substitute, Jesus suffered our justly-deserved punishment, freeing us and giving us eternal life. Substitution was historically God’s idea to deliver His people from the penalty of their sin. When Adam and Eve sinned, God substituted an animal to cover their sin. He accepted Abel’s sacrifice of ‘the firstborn of his flock’ (Genesis 4:4 KJV), and Abraham’s ram caught in a bush in exchange for Isaac’s life (see Genesis 22:13).
But without question God’s greatest soul-saving theme—substitution—was once-for-all-time shown when Jesus offered Himself at Calvary. Fully satisfied with Christ’s atoning death, God forgave our sinful record and said we are innocent in His sight! God ‘made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.’ (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB) On the cross Jesus became what we were—sin—so we could become what He was—righteousness! Everything Jesus did from His virgin birth, sinless life, redeeming death, miraculous resurrection, glorious ascension, and priestly ministry in heaven, He did as a substitute and Saviour.