What is Atonement: Substitution

Jesus' crucifixion and death was in atonement for the sins of mankind. Atonement, what Jesus did to reconcile human beings with God, has many aspects to it and this lesson introduces you to one facet of the extent and depth of His work on the cross.

1. In the Old Testament, God introduces how the penalty of sin can be repaid through the sacrifice of the life of a substitute. The sacrifice of an unblemished animal takes the place of the sinner, and its blood makes atonement.

“Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses. (Lev 16:15-16, ESV)

Observe how the New Testament portrays Jesus Christ. What do you observe? From God's perspective, what was Jesus sacrificed for?

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29, ESV)

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. (1 Pet 2:21-22, ESV)

2. From a human being's perspective, what was Jesus Christ sacrificed for?

The apostles Matthew and Mark write:

It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matt 20:26-28; Mark 10:43-45 ESV)

Jesus Himself is recorded saying:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." (John 6:51, ESV)

The apostle Paul writes:

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Tim 2:5-6, ESV)

3. How does this substitution reflect on God's love and justice?

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