I think I found a new favorite theologian quote. I was reading In My Place Condemned He Stood and read the quote by John Owen which goes “If He fulfilled not justice, I must; if He underwent not wrath, I must to eternity“. That hit me like a ton of bricks. To me, that sentence fully embodies what Christ’s mission on earth was and the reason He died. He didn’t die because He was guilty of a crime according to man, or because He was a filthy sinner. Christ was innocent and completely sinless and pure. Jesus was the only one who lived in compliance to God’s Law. The death He died, He died for me as my substitute.
In IMPCHS JI Packer defines the word “substitutionary” as something done in the place of someone else that they had no power in themself to accomplish. The dictionary defines “substitute” as “a person or thing acting or serving in place of another”. Christ wasn’t my representative, He was my substitute. A representative is someone designated by those who need representation to act in their place. If Christ was my representative, I must have told Him to fix my sin problem. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The amazing thing about grace is that it seeks you out. I couldn’t have done anything to seek grace, it found me. Christ was indeed my substitute on the cross because I was in the crowd jeering and slandering Him while He was being nailed to the cross. Christ, as my substitute, underwent wrath so that I would not have to, and He fulfilled justice so I wouldn’t have to. Because if I had to do either of these things my future would hold nothing but condemnation. Praise God Father, Son, and Spirit for the substitutionary death He died to ransom my soul and those in the Church! Grace and Peace.