December 10 I Tuesday
“Once you were alienated from God…because of your evil behaviour. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”
Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? There are two things in the character of God that makes the cross of Christ necessary: His justice and His mercy. Justice is “giving people what they deserve” while mercy is “not giving people what they deserve.” If God gives people what they deserve while also not giving people what they deserve, there is a dilemma. He cannot be both at the same time to the same person in the same situation.
This is because justice and mercy are actually incompatible with each other. For example, say I was driving my car at 120km/h along a road with an 80km/h limit and got stopped by the police with a fine. I elect to go to court to fight my fine and when asked by the judge, “Did you drive your car at 120km/h in an area restricted to 80km/h?” I honestly respond, “I did. I am guilty of that charge.” The judge then has a decision to make: He could either act justly and make me pay the fine or be merciful and release me––but he cannot do both.
The only way for justice and mercy to be brought together is by the introduction of a third party. If the judge’s verdict is to fine me $200, I would have to pay off that fine in order to serve justice. I, however, do not have $200. At this time, my friend enters the courtroom and he understands that I do not have the money to pay off my fine. He walks over to the clerk of the court and hands over a cheque for $200 to pay my fine. As far as the court is concerned, justice had been served, as my debt is paid. Why? A third party has been introduced into the scenario, who satisfied the Justice of the Court on my behalf, so that I, as a guilty person can walk out as the recipient of mercy.
This illustration demonstrates why Jesus had to die on the cross. God, in His justice, demanded our sin to be paid as Paul tells us, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). Jesus died on our behalf to pay for our sin, as the Old Testament prophet Isaiah writes, “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus’s death became justice for our sin, allowing God to extend His mercy to forgive and reconcile us to Him.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross for my sin. By Your wounds, justice is served and my debt is paid. Thank You for Your mercy on my life. Praise You!