In his humanity, Jesus is the “last Adam.” He was born under the law, kept it perfectly, and was qualified as the perfect Adam (man) to save God’s people (Rom. 5:15-19). The apostle Paul makes it abundantly clear in Romans, chapter 5, that Jesus succeeded where Adam failed, and as death came to all through Adam, righteousness and life come to those who are in Christ Jesus by faith.
Because of God’s holiness and righteousness, sin must be punished. As humans, we tend to take a lenient view of sin, but God can’t do that. He has set his laws in place and revealed them to us. When they are broken, the transgressor must be punished. Christians know Christ paid their debt on the cross, but he did even more for every believer.
God regards sin as cosmic rebellion.
God’s first “law” was given to Adam, and he was warned that on the day he disobeyed he would die. From the start, the Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and that message does not change throughout Scripture (see Gen. 2:17; Deut. 24:16; Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 5:12; 6:23). When we sin, we have earned “wages” as it were, and God must pay what is due if he is to be just; and just he must be. We may minimize our sin or attempt to justify our sinful actions, but God regards sin as cosmic rebellion, punishable by death for the rebel. He has clearly stated the punishment for sin is the “shedding of blood,” for life is in the blood (Lev. 17:14).
But an early shadow of God’s grace came immediately through the animal coverings God made for Adam and Eve after that first sin (Gen. 3:21). A clearer shadow of God’s final means of redemption for sin followed later in the Passover Lamb sacrifice that began in Exodus 12:11. A spotless lamb foreshadowed the sinless man Jesus Christ as the Passover continued throughout the history of Israel.
“The wages of sin is death.”
The sacrifice and several other elements of the Passover celebration were for Israel a vivid reminder of the “wages” of sin and the “cost” of redemption. God does not need the blood of bulls and goats; God’s people needed to see life drain away as a visual picture of the punishment God requires for sin (Isa. 1:11; Heb. 10:4). Thus, the sacrificial system served, for those who offered the sacrifices in faith, to point to the coming Messiah, Christ Jesus (Heb. 8-10).
God’s first and final plan, however, was that he would pay the price for sin, because sin is an offense against an infinite being and only the infinite could bear the cost. So in eternity past, before the foundation of the world, the Son committed to glorify his Father and the Spirit by being the voluntary sacrifice for the sins of every person who, by faith, would believe (Gen. 3:15; Eph. 1:3-14).