He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. I Peter 2:24
Recently, I was at the busiest U.S. airport making an international connection. It was soon after the holidays, and on the international concourse were hundreds and hundreds of service men and women. They were "returning to work" at their stations overseas.
I was really overcome by this sight of so many men and women leaving the comforts of home to go to a foreign and dangerous place and risk their lives for my well-being. I made it a point to look at each one I passed and told them "Thank you!" but it didn't seem like enough.
They were willingly serving and going in my place. Because they were going, I didn't have to.
They were my substitute.
Then I thought about Jesus.
Jesus was my substitute.
Because He went to the cross to pay for my sin, I won't have to.
He willingly served and went in my place. As this hymn so beautifully says, Was it for crimes that I had done, He groaned upon that tree? YES!
Christ, the mighty maker died for man, the creature's, sin. Think about that. Our creator, the One who made us, died for us, because of our (His creation's) sin.
Paul, in his letter to the church at Colossae, reminds us that Jesus, the image of the invisible God, was our Creator.
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:13-17
Our Creator paid the price, and was our substitute.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
I John 2:1-2
We had a debt we couldn't pay. Nothing, besides a sinless Savior, could cancel out the decrees against us.
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Jesus paid a debt He didn't owe. In dying for such a worm as I, He saved me from the wrath of God and reconciled me to the Father.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:8-10
When I think about Jesus' substitutionary work on my behalf, my response is much like Mr. Watts'. My heart is dissolved in thankfulness and my eyes are melted to tears. However, my grief over my sin will not repay the debt of love I owe. So I sing with Mr. Watts and all the saints, "Here Lord, I give myself away, 'tis all that I can do."
Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed
Words by Isaace Watts
Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!
Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His Soul in anguish stood.
Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.
Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.
But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.