The death of Christ was, at once, the world’s greatest act of wickedness and infamy, and history’s supreme moment of grace and glory. It all depends on how you view it. And how you view it depends on whether or not you have a full-orbed view of salvation.
Among the factors discussed are the penal, substitutionary aspects of Jesus’ death. And well they might be. Apart from an understanding of these factors, you don’t have a proper grasp of what transpired on Calvary.
The death of Jesus Christ was penal. That is to say, He suffered for the sins of those who would believe in Him. The cross was a cruel method of execution, designed to prolong death in an agonizing manner. To eliminate the excruciating (a word that comes from crucifixion) aspect of he death is a gross mistake. People deserve to be punished for their sins. Sin is rebellion against a holy God, and nothing less can satisfy His justice.
The death of Jesus Christ was also substitutionary. In all respects that sinners were to be punished, he was punished in their stead. In 1 Corinthians 15 (see a previous blog on the Gospel) the Greek word huper is used to describe it. That term means “on behalf of,” or “instead of,” clearly indicating that Jesus’ death was substitutionary. The guiltless One dies in the place of the guilty ones.
Too often, today, all we hear is that Jesus is a Savior. Of course, He is, But it is essential to fill out that term with all of the facts that make it meaningful. These terms describe two of those essential features of Jesus’ death on the cross. In explaining the Gospel, let’s be sure that they are both plainly set forth.