Sin bearing is the central aspect of Christ’s role. You can believe in Jesus as a good man, as a wise teacher, and as an example of love and compassion. But if you don’t accept his role as the sin-bearer, you have missed the point of Jesus Christ. He came to die.
“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”
So starts my favorite Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities. The story introduces two men, a virtuous Charles Darnay and a repugnant Sydney Carton. They have only these two things in common: they both possess a profound love for the same woman, Lucie; and they share an uncanny physical resemblance to one another.
Throughout the novel Darnay plays the hero while Carton does nothing to endear himself to the reader. He is a vulgar, insolent, irresponsible, indifferent, alcoholic lawyer. And yet, in the third to last chapter Carton’s actions completely reverse our feelings for the man.
Darnay is sentenced to death in the French Revolution. With Darnay’s death Carton would be able to marry Lucie. Carton visits Darnay in prison the day before the execution and drugs Darnay, who falls asleep. Carton then changes clothes with Darnay and calls the guards to remove him. By exploiting his physical resemblance to the prisoner, Carton enables the unconscious Darnay to be carried out to freed. Carton bravely takes the place of his rival at the guillotine, and dies in his stead, thus securing for Darnay not only life, but happiness in marriage to Lucie.
It is the idea of exchanging one person’s life and penalty for another’s that Peter uses in 1 Peter 2:22-24.
2 Aspects of Substitution
1. Perfect Achievement
1 Peter 2: 22-23 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
Who deserves heaven? That is the age-old question. The Scriptures tell us plainly: only people deserve heaven. Matt 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
But the same Scriptures tell us that no one has ever kept the law perfectly.
Romans 3: 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Sin means to miss the mark on a target and God’s will is the bulls-eye. Every time you think a thought you are taking a shot at the bulls-eye. And every time you make a decision you are taking a shot at it. And every time you say a word, you are taking a shot at it.