“Jesus lives perfectly obeying the will of the Father, he gives himself up to be crucified on a Roman cross to take on the whole fury of God the Father’s wrath for all of sin’s curse past, present, and future, and he is killed by God the Father as the sacrifice for sin to crush the serpent and provide the narrow and difficult way to life.”
This quote from Sunday’s sermon brought up one of my favorite inquiries about the cross of Jesus that people through the year often make. That inquiry is about the idea that it is God who executes Jesus, not the Romans who did the crucifying or the Jewish religious leaders that led the charge to falsely accuse Jesus.
Listen to Isaiah 53:10 (CSB) 10 Yet the LORD was pleased to crush him severely. When you make him a guilt offering, he will see his seed, he will prolong his days, and by his hand, the LORD’s pleasure will be accomplished.
Isaiah 53 is titled, “The Suffering Servant”. This passage is one of the many gold nuggets in the Old Testament that look forward to Jesus, the Son of God, and his work to save sinners from the rightful anger of God the Father at sin and sinners. Yes, because of sin, sinners are the rightful objects of God’s anger. That’s some bad news.
It is YHWH, God, who crushes the Servant, Jesus, and makes him a guilt offering to satisfy his righteous anger and thus fulfills his pleasure in the work to atone for sin.
- God is the rightfully angry party at sin and sin’s participants in wrecking all of creation.
- God is the provider of the solution to sin for sinners.
- It is God’s pleasure to save sinners with his own means of his Son receiving the sinner’s penalty. And don’t hear that poorly by hearing God took delight in the gruesome details of killing the Son. That’s wrong. Hear, it was the pleasure of God to provide salvation for sinners. This is one of many reasons we can exclaim that God loves sinners. God was pleased to provide us the way to be saved. Great news.
- God, as the provider, provides the sacrifice and the means of executing the sacrifice to pay for sin. Salvation is by God and his means alone. No one else provides salvation for sinners. Otherwise, we’d be bowing down to Judaism or Rome for their part in saving us. We don’t do that because they didn’t provide salvation. They were means for God’s ends not the other way around. Don’t confuse it.
- As a result, salvation is completely and fully God’s idea and God’s gracious provision.
The Bible is into ultimates not merely secondary means and causes that God provides in his sovereignty. Yes, the Jewish leadership framed Jesus. Yes, the Romans put Jesus on the cross. But Isaiah is clear that it is God who is ultimately responsible for the work of salvation.
It is God who put Jesus to death through the direct action of the Jewish leaders and the Roman government but make no mistake, it’s not Jewish leadership or the Roman government making the provision for the forgiveness of sin.
This work is God’s work, and it is not only right but necessary for us to say that God killed Jesus in our place for our sin so that sin would be atoned for and that God would be the provider of such gracious love. No man or government can claim any sliver of work in the provision of salvation. Only God can do that.
Salvation is completely the work of the Triune God birthed out of God’s love for God’s glory and God’s love for man. Thus we proclaim that we can’t earn what we didn’t provide. We can only receive it as the gift of love that it is.
So, rather than try and earn God’s favor, just receive it by faith, and know that in love God has by himself made the way for us to be saved and for him to keep us saved.
That’s some really good news!