The Substitute

viaadmin Current Issue, Volume 46

I watched a video of a beautiful horse named Daisy. Her back legs were trapped as she had somehow fallen into a well. She was helpless and without strength to get herself out of the pit she was in. If it wasn’t for a backhoe and a skilled operator, Daisy would have died.

I thought about this story for a long time. I was like that horse. I was in a pit. You may know you are like that too. We need something bigger than ourselves to save us and put us on solid ground again. God loves you and wants to operate in your life just like that backhoe operated in the life of Daisy the horse. He is “…not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

It is amazing that God continually shows His mercy and kindness to us even though we deserve His justice for our rebellion towards Him. One lie, one act of hate, one lustful thought – the list goes on and on for the ways that we sin against God. But if we had a book in front of us that showed us all the times that God stepped in and blessed us when we didn’t deserve it, or when He preserved us from danger, or when He helped us, we would be amazed! We would understand that He really does love us and is thinking of our eternal comfort.

God wants us to come to Him in faith, laying down our weakness, our guilt and shame at His feet. He is “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). Anything else or anyone else is imperfect and cannot give the peace, comfort and forgiveness that we really need.

There is a story about a particular Aboriginal tribe that was suffering from the effects of a severe drought. Food was scarce and the members of the tribe were beginning to steal from each other in order to survive. The chief knew that this would be the death of the tribe, so he issued a law that the next person caught stealing would be taken to the centre of the village, tied to a pole and publicly whipped.

The next day, sure enough a thief was caught. Everyone came to see who it was and to witness the punishment. To the shock of the tribe, the thief turned out to be the chief’s own mother. What was he going to do? He was a good chief, and could not justly ignore the law he had made. He had to keep his word.

But, this was his mom and he loved her. She was old and frail so the beating could very well kill her. How could he cause her to suffer?

What do you think he should do? Which should win: his love or his justice?

When Jesus was being crucified, He was stepping between us who are guilty and God who demands justice.
The chief ordered that her wrists be tied to the pole so the beating could begin. He called the man responsible for administering the punishment to step forward, whip in hand. But, before he gave the order for the lashings to begin, he stepped between his mom and the man. He stretched his strong frame across her frail back and with her body completely protected underneath his own, he ordered that the punishment begin.

As the cords of the whip fell, they fell on him. He absorbed the brunt of her penalty. In that act, he was both just, in carrying out the penalty, and loving, by suffering it himself.

That is what Jesus did for us. We are guilty of breaking His laws, and we know it. The Bible is clear that sin earns a penalty. The penalty of death must be paid. But it is also clear that God loves us. He provided a Saviour for us.

So here’s what the Saviour did. He came to earth, became a perfect Man and went to the cross for you and for me. When Jesus was being crucified, He was stepping between us who are guilty and God who demands justice. He absorbed the blows of that punishment so that we wouldn’t have to take them ourselves. Jesus died and rose again. He was victorious over death, so that we could escape God’s punishment and live lives free from the control of sin and the judgment sin deserves.

May God help each of us to consider His great love and to accept His life-changing gift of salvation through His Son, today! We don’t know if we have tomorrow. When Christ is our Saviour, nothing can “separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

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