Why did it have to be Jesus?

(Chelsea Casali) #1

Hi everyone, you all have been so helpful in answering my Dad’s questions so far. Here is another area of struggle that I’m hoping for help with: my Dad definitely struggles with the resurrection of Jesus, it’s the thing that is hardest for him to get past. But it’s funny, he doesn’t have difficulty with the miracle of it or believing it could have happened. He’s read tons of apologetics books and says that the Apostle’s dramatic change in character is the most compelling evidence to him. But his question seems to be more, why. He doesn’t understand why God didn’t do it another way and why Jesus had to be the “vessel” for our sins. I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Thanks so much!

(SeanO) #2

@Chelsea_Casali So exciting that your Dad is continuing to engage with the Gospel! The simplest answer to his question is that God is just and must punish sin. The punishment for sin is death. In order to both be just and justify sinners, a man had to stand in our place. But not just any man - a sinless man. But no man is sinless! So God had to send His Son into the world to be that perfect man.

Another way of thinking about it (based on Romans 5) is that Jesus is the ‘second Adam’. Through Adam death and sin came to all men, but through Jesus all men have life. To be the second Adam Jesus had to come as a man - a perfect man.

Romans 3:25-26 - God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Romans 5:17 - For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

You might consider doing a book study on Romans with your Dad :slight_smile:

(Cameron Kufner) #3

Hi Chelsea! I wanted to share a few things that may be of help to you, I know they helped me overcome a lot of doubts. I’m glad to hear your father is reading apologetics books. Like your father, I was convinced by the fact that the apostles were willing to die for what they believed: That they had seen Christ raised from the dead.

The fact that they did not recant anything that they had preached; when, if they were telling a lie, they would have admitted to it because of the brutal attacks they suffered for the sake of Christ, a great example for believers may I add.

Also, the conversion of Paul is what really made me say “This has to be real.” We all as believers know what Paul did, and if he converted, there should be no reason that anyone else doesn’t convert.

The fact that Jesus appeared to over 500 people after the resurrection at one time is another great form of evidence, and the idea that those 500 people could have a hallucination has been debunked time and time again by the American Medical Association, I’m paraphrasing the AMA’s words: Group hallucinations are impossible. Even if it’s just in regards to two or three people.

The fact that Mary was the first witness during a time when women’s testimonies were not taken seriously also helped me overcome any shred of doubt.

A former teacher of mine, Putty Putman, told a story about a revelation he received from God in prayer when he asked “Why that form of punishment? Why crucifixion?” He said God responded (paraphrasing) “The fruit needed to be put back up on the tree to be redeemed too.” Obviously referring to the fruit from the tree of Good and Evil mentioned in Genesis that caused sin and death to enter the world (Thanks Adam & Eve, lol.) Also, remember “cursed is he who hangs on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13 | Deuteronomy 21:23)

I know this was a long reply, but I hope it helps. My prayers will be with you. God bless!

(Chelsea Casali) #4

Thank you for your responses! @SeanO that is a great summary of the gospel. Plus I find it interesting to see the need for Jesus to be the Second Adam. I’ve never really thought about it that way. I’ve explained to my Dad the gospel many times and he sees the need for the atonement for sins, but I guess he just doesn’t understand why God did it in that way. I just started going through Romans again myself so I’m looking forward to watching that video and will share it with my Dad as well.

@CamKufner I really appreciate your response and am going to share those evidences with my Dad. I find the fact about the AMA very interesting- that group hallucination is impossible. I also really like the story of your former teacher’s response from God about the need for the crucifixion.

I think I’m going to try to really lay out the gospel clearly again to my Dad, I might even make a diagram explaining the need for justice of sin and why the atonement needed to come through the blood of a perfect human.

Thanks again for your thoughtful responses and prayers!

(SeanO) #5

@Chelsea_Casali Sounds like a plan! Will continue to pray for you and your Dad as you continue to minister to him. If he has additional questions let us know. Christ be with you.

(Tony Hacker ) #6

I don’t know if this approach would help, but maybe ask him, “i don’t know all the why’s but how would you have redeemed mankind dad?”

Because sometimes prerogatives differ upon how and why people choose to parent a certain way, vote a certain way, live, eat, have fun, would rule the world etc. And in the same fashion God is autonomous over the universe and has His own prerogative don’t He?

Isaiah 55:8-9 NASB — “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

(Cameron Kufner) #7

Of course! Anything to help. My prayers are with you and your father. God bless!

(Cameron Kufner) #8

I wanted to leave this here as well! This can really help when talking to your dad! God bless!

(Daren) #9

What a wonderful question! The more I dig, the more I realize there is to dig into. The satisfaction theory of atonement has many nuances and development over history. Did the Son become the victim of the Father’s wrath (penal substitution)? Did the Son pay the redemption price to Satan (ransom theory)? Did the death and resurrection proclaim the worth of the Son (Christus victor)? Still digging myself, but I have rejected the penal substitution as I find it logically inconsistent and it was not expressed till much later in church history.

(SeanO) #10

@dlallee68 It is worth noting that penal substitution does not necessarily imply that Jesus suffered the Father’s wrath, though that is the most popular version of it. Penal substitution can simply mean, per my understanding, that Jesus suffered the penalty of sin, death, in our place and that He suffered the law’s condemnation, which we deserved, by becoming a curse for us. Like the Passover Lamb in the Old Testament or the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, it is clear that Christ died so that we could be cleansed of sin.

I John 1:7 - But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

And thus we can affirm, at minimum, that Jesus did die in our place. Whether or not He suffered the Father’s wrath is another issue.

Let’s take a look at a few theories of the atonement. When Jesus died He atoned for our sins, but there is some disagreement about what ‘atonement’ means.

  • Ransom theory - Jesus died as a ransom to either the devil or to God

  • Christus Victor - Jesus died to defeat the powers of evil - sin, death and the devil - setting us free to live in His Kingdom

  • Satisfaction theory - Christ died to satisfy God’s justice

  • Penal substitution - Christ was punished in our place - He took our punishment upon the cross - He did not just pay a debt of justice but literally suffered in our place

Jesus’ death is described as a ‘ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). Over the cross were the words ‘King of the Jews’ and Colossians 2:15 is clear that Jesus triumphed over the powers and authorities on the cross - a victorious King. It is also clear that Jesus died as a propitiation for our sins (I John 2:2), the righteous for the unrighteous (1 Peter 3:18) - that looks like substitution. So each of these theories as some Biblical basis.

The Bible verses that talk about God’s wrath talk about His wrath on sinners - not on Jesus. Jesus, by His propitiation on the cross, saved us from God’s wrath. So while Jesus did die ‘in our place’, it is not necessarily the case that He suffered God’s wrath.

All of that to say, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. We can affirm the most fundamental principle of penal substitution, that Christ died - the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God. While not necessarily believing that Christ’s death involved the Father’s wrath.

Jesus became a curse for us and shed His blood for us, overturning the power of sin and death and the law in our lives so that we could live as a new creation according to the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8).

The Worthiness of Christ

I think one way to talk about atonement is to say it was chiefly about the worthiness of Christ. Here are 2 possible statements.

Atonement is chiefly about one life for another - the sacrifice was never required to suffer emotional or physical torment in proportion to the offense committed. However, the lamb was required to be spotless. Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient for all people not because of the amount He suffered, but because He was a perfect sacrifice undeserving of death - the perfect lamb of God foreshadowed by the old covenant sacrifices. Christ saved us not by absorbing the Father’s wrath, but by dying in our place to set us free from the law’s condemnation so that through Him we can die to ourselves and live unto God.

Jesus is the victorious king who reconciled us to God by His blood and in whom we become Spirit filled children of the Kingdom of Light, free from the law’s condemnation and sin’s power. The law of sin and death is replaced by the Spirit’s laws of life in Christ Jesus.

(Daren) #11

Thanks or the depth. There are a lot more nuances in this discussion than I used to realize and far more to explore for me. There is a lot of technical language that I am still learning also.

(SeanO) #12

@dlallee68 Definitely - I am still wrestling through it as well. The Bible does not seem to land neatly on only a single theory. What frustrates me about both satisfaction theory and penal substitution, as commonly held, is that they both work according to a balance sheet. In classic satisfaction theory, God was defrauded of honor due Him by sin and Christ was able to make up that deficit. In penal substitution, we had racked up a wrath debt with God and Jesus cleared it by suffering that exact amount of wrath in our place. Both of these views contain the idea of a ledger and Christ somehow paying off our ledger - where we owe God a balance either of honor or of suffering (punishment).

While Paul does say our debt of sin is ‘nailed to the cross’, he does not say ‘how’. We read the idea of a ledger into the text. Honestly, I’m not sure exactly ‘how’ atonement works, but I’m not sure that the ledger analogy should be pressed so far. It’s very easy to understand, which is probably why it is so popular. But I don’t feel it’s Biblically accurate in all of its applications.

(Chelsea Casali) #13

Thank you for the responses! @SpiritfilledBerean I think that’s an interesting approach and I may bring up something like that- definitely puts it into perspective that it’s not as easy as we think.
@CamKufner I love that video! Thanks again, I’ll definitely show it to him.
@dlallee68 thanks for opening up this theological discussion- I’ve never looked into the theological arguments around atonement. @SeanO thanks for laying out the arguments in such a clear way!

(Tony Hacker ) #14

And let’s not forget the verse in (I’ll give you 3 translations)
Isaiah 53:10 NLT — But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands

Isaiah 53:10 NASB — But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

Isaiah 53:10 ESV — Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

  1. But it was the Lord’s GOOD plan to CRUSH Him AND CAUSE Him GRIEF…
  2. But the LORD was PLEASED to CRUSH Him PUTTING Him to GRIEF…
  3. Yet it WAS the WILL of the LORD to CRUSH him he HAS PUT HIM TO GRIEF
    (Sorry I can’t italicize for emphasis so i just put them in CAPS)

Let’s throw these ingredients in when mixing a batch of atonement even if they may not “taste” to good and we may not fully understand it, this is the Word of the Lord.

I believe because God knew what this was going to purchase and bring about this is why He was pleased. And though an animal can’t suffer like a human and yet this is why an animal could never have been a Perfect sacrifice nor could an animal be tempted in all things so as to be a more sympathetic sacrifice

Hebrews 4:15 NASB — For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

(SeanO) #15

@SpiritfilledBerean Yes, Isaiah 53 is a beautiful passage about the atonement! The clearest in the OT no doubt. Though I do not think it points directly to one theory or another of the atonement.