April 16, 2017
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. – 1 Peter 3:18
Generally speaking, the word “substitute” brings to my mind something inferior, like a second-string athlete brought in to relieve the starter, or someone who drives the school bus when the regular driver is sick—someone who does not know the route very well. Are you old enough to remember when margarine appeared on the scene as a substitute for real butter? At that time, it was not about cholesterol, but rather about cost and availability. The original margarine was white-colored (like eating Crisco). You could knead some yellow dye into it if you chose, but even then it was like eating yellow-colored Crisco!
Then I remembered a substitute that was actually far superior to the original. When my wife and I flew to New England for a weeklong visit, we were to pick up a mid-sized, economically priced vehicle at the airport. At the agency, we learned that the car we had chosen was not available. Would we settle for a top-of-the-line car—at the same price? The answer, obviously, was yes. For a week we drove around in a vehicle we would otherwise never have been able to afford. It was a truly superior substitute.
This, of course, leads us to consider Jesus and His substitutionary death upon the Cross. By God’s eternal rule, all sin has to be paid for—by death. The trouble is that each one of us is born a sinner. Thus, each one of us was condemned to die eternally. But Jesus, God’s Son, willingly took our rightful punishment upon Himself. He Who had never committed a single sin took upon Himself our sins. And after taking our punishment, He did even more for us—He conquered death, Hell, and the grave when He rose again on the third day! Because of that, we can live eternally. Truly, Jesus is the greatest substitute of all time.
Many people have a vague idea of Who Jesus was and what He did, but do not understand what is required of themselves personally to reap the benefit of His death on the Cross. The Bible explains what we are to do with His sacrifice. It talks about the necessity to “repent,” to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” and to “walk in the light as he is in the light.” This is what we must do for Jesus to become our personal Substitute.
Through no merit or inherent goodness of my own, God saved me when I came to Him in true repentance. In the same way He has saved countless others. Because of His death, we are truly able to live—both here on earth and one day in Heaven!