“I had committed the crime and I stood before the judge as he pronounced the verdict.”
“Now I awaited the sentence. I so desired mercy. But I knew that I was indeed guilty and had no reason to expect anything except justice. Then the judge pronounced the sentence.”
These are the opening words in an essay by Ken Craig from a DeWard Publishing Book entitled Beneath the Cross.
Ken explains a judicial system that we know and understand. Death is the price paid for a capital offense. The sentence is fair. Just. Equitable. It is the price paid by a law-breaker.
“This is precisely the situation,” Ken writes, “that all of us have encountered in the spiritual realm.”
The reality is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Indeed, “there is none righteous, no not one” (Rom 3:10). My sins, and yours, separate us from a holy God. There is no denying that we are guilty. And death is the penalty for sin. It is the judicial price that must be paid.
The Hebrew writer affirmed, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” It was the guiding principle behind the Old Testament animal sacrifices. However, with those sacrifices was a remembrance of sin every year. It was not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to really remit sin. (Heb 10:3).
Ken Craig’s “Judicial Death” thesis reminds me why Jesus had to die. It speaks to the issue of sin. The need for a just payment. A price that must be paid.
Yet, I cannot pay the price for my salvation. Because I am the sinner! However, this where God’s mercy intervenes. It’s where grace meets justice. And love pays the debt that I owe, but cannot pay!
That is why Friday was necessary. It explains so much. Why Jesus surrendered the glory of heaven and came into this wicked world. Why he lived among men, and even became a servant of men. Why he relinquished his prerogatives. Why he allowed himself to be betrayed. Denied. And forsaken. Why he had to be beaten. Battered. And bloodied as he was nailed to the cross.
It explains why Jesus suffered all alone. It explains the piercing cry, My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”
The fact that Jesus’ death was a judicial necessity speaks to the relevance of the Old Testament and to the need of Calvary’s cross to a questioning generation that must find relevance in everything!
When we come to communion on Sunday, we are reminded of how special THAT Friday was. God’s justice demanded death as a payment for sin. However, God’s mercy spared us from death. God’s grace offers another solution. And God’s love, demonstrated in Jesus, sent Him to the cross “to be sin for us” and offer the perfect vicarious sacrifice.
Because of Jesus’ judicial death, we can have our sins washed away, enjoy justification, receive sanctification, and savor all spiritual blessings in Christ.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman