Updated: Mar 23, 2019
by Dave Miller
Jesus had a mission to fulfill. Sent by the Father to seek and to save that which is lost required Jesus to not only live as the perfect man, it required a permanent substitute for the traitors we were and are. We are broken image-bearers, dead in our sin in desperate need to be made alive. The purpose of the Father was the purpose of Jesus. The whole earth cannot be filled with the glory of God if the people filling the earth were only displaying a corrupted image of the original design.
The old lie, “You will not surely die” was wrong, treason required death, but the glorious mercy of our God was shown when Adam and Eve did not die in that tragic moment. Instead the substitute death hanging as clothing on Adam and Eve stayed God’s hand for a season, but sin and curses had become the way of the world. We will all surely die, but we will not all be lost. Jesus has become the ultimate substitutionary sacrifice for those who believe.
Looking back on that day in the Garden called Eden, the grace of God is overwhelming. God knew the moment he came calling in the garden, “Where are you?” that question would require the death of the Son of God, Jesus.  God did not come with condemnation for the traitors; he came with the gracious call of restoration. A relationship had been lost and a bond had been broken. God’s glory was at stake. The purpose of man, filling the earth with image-bearing ambassadors who worship God, was held captive to man’s desire for lesser-glory substitute idols. God sought to restore what was lost.
Everything had changed. The re-created heart was necessary. God wanted to make man new. Who better to bring about the re-creation than the God-Man Jesus Christ? Remember Ephesians 2:1-11:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
"But God," one of the sweetest statements in the Scriptures. But God who is rich in mercy and love, when we were dead in our trespasses, unable to even conceive of a life for the glory of God, made us alive together with Christ. Followers of Jesus are the restored workmanship of God’s hand, created in Christ for good works, i.e. God’s mission. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 all this is possible because:
“For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God.”
We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). God’s image in us is broken, the glory God should receive has fallen short in our lives. But God loves us. He has staked his glory on our lives as his image-bearers and God will not let anything hinder his plan. So God demonstrated his great love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).
Christ was the perfect substitute sacrifice. Only a man could die for man’s sins, and God owes us death because we are treasonous sinners (Rom. 6:23). There is nothing we can do to make up for our sins. The wrath of God is our reward. But Christ took that wrath on our behalf.
“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Rom. 5:9).
For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified [declared not guilty]by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation [wrath taker]by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins (Rom. 22b-25).
Traitors deserve to die a traitor’s death. Yet God patiently passed over former sins (i.e. Eden and the skins which clothed Adam and Eve). He passed over those sins not because they didn’t matter, but precisely because the one to take the full punishment for our sins would be the Son of God, Jesus.
Now God’s gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 6:23) who died a sinner’s death as our perfect substitute. Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin on the cross, that we might become the righteousness of God! (2 Cor. 5:21).
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old selfwas crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set freefrom sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:5-11).
Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, took the wrath of God for our sin on the cross and overcame the curse of death by his resurrection on the third day. He took your place.
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Until there's #NoPlaceLeft...
For the curses pronounced by God see Genesis 3: 14-19.
Italics added by author for clarification of terms.
Sentergy: When Jesus, People, Practice and Theology Collide
Chapter 1: The Glory of God
Chapter 2: The Glory of God in Jesus
Chapter 3: The Glory of God in the Gospel
Chapter 4: The Glory of God in Disciple Making
Chapter 5: If You Love Me You Will Obey What I Command
Chapter 6: Monday Morning Disciple Making
Chapter 7: Monday Morning Disciple Making Part 2
Interlude: The Father's Heart
Conclusion: The Lump In Your Throat