Title: Jesus and Your Waywardness
The New Testament teaches that God is the subject rather than the object of the atonement. But it also makes another remarkable claim. Yeshua's death was a substitutionary sacrifice.
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. - 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Jesus here is spoken of as a substitute who has died for us all.
Paul continues, From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. Do you see the startling result of the Messiah's substitutionary sacrifice? We will come back to that in a moment.
Now notice verse 21, For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus is a substitutionary sacrifice for us. As a sin offering, he took my sins, iniquities, and transgressions upon himself. He also took upon himself the chastisement due to me as a result of my sin. The Jews did not kill Jesus; I did. And so did you.
Now, here is a vitally important point. We need to understand that Jesus substitutes both for God and for man.
Typically we only talk about Jesus as the substitution for man with respect to the holy God. But the fullness of the biblical revelation is that Jesus was also the substitute, of God, for man. Let me explain.
On the one hand, Jesus substitutes for man in the face of the wrath of God (against sin and the evil that results from it). On the other hand, he substitutes for God in the face of man's sins. In this double substitution, we have both the satisfaction of God and the shalom of man.
Stay with me here, this has profound implications for us. The key terminology in all this is that God was in Messiah Jesus, reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor 5:19). It is the most fundamental revelation in all of the New Testament. To better understand the concept of substitution, the word representation is helpful.
Jesus represents man to God, and he represents God to man.
Jesus represents Adam (mankind, Gen 1:27). And as a man, he became a sin offering. However, he did not become a sinner which is a crucial distinction. If on the cross he had become a sinner, then he would have died there as a judgment against his sins. But as an unblemished lamb—Jesus, son of the living God—could die on behalf or in lieu of your sins.
The evidence of all this is his resurrection. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it (Acts 2:24). And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power (1 Cor 6:14).
Another of the earliest heresies in the church, Docetism, said Jesus was not really human, he only appeared to be a man. God, they posited, could not have been in the flesh because Spirit and flesh cannot mingle. This is a tenet of Gnosticism. It is a dualism, Greek in origin, that is foreign to the Bible.
The biblical worldview is a Jewish one in which the material world is not evil. Yes, the body is corrupt, inclined to sin, and passing away—but it is not evil.
The church fathers, led by the Holy Spirit, showed wisdom when they rejected this false dualism by affirming, "We know from the scriptures that the fullness of deity indwelled him. Jesus was fully man, and he was fully God."
As a man, Jesus fully identifies with fallen mankind. His flesh was given to temptation, given to corruption, given to going astray. Even in Gethsemane, he continues the struggle asking the Father to take the coming judgment from him. But finally, in the power of the Holy Spirit, he was able to say, Father glorify your name, not my will but yours be done.
Jesus is our representative and he is our champion.
If he did not fully identify with our humanity, he could not have decisively dealt with our fallenness in his own death. It would only be a dramatic charade. That is not the reality. Jesus, as a man, represented my death in his death. In so doing he decisively dealt with my fallenness.
The death of Jesus, therefore, was the death of old humanity (of the old Adam). The resurrection of Jesus (the second Adam) presents the beginning of a new humanity, a new creation. But before the new can rise in the life-giving Spirit, the old must be dealt with decisively by way of death and burial.
In his death, he dealt with the old humanity, In his resurrection, he paves the way for the creation of a new humanity.
Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
Now look at verse 45, Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being" [Gen 2:7]; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. You should commit this classic text to memory. Notice there is contrast, but there is also continuity.
Both are Adam. One comes alive, but in his aliveness falls victim to the temptation to sin and the corruption of evil. The other comes as the representation of Adam to bear the wages of sin. As a result, Adam can now come forth in the newness of life as he was meant to be by God. As a new creature, part of a new creation!
The cross deals with the old man in order that the new man can come forth. I believe the Spirit is saying to you, "In Jesus, let the new creation come forth."
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.