Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people – Hebrews 2:17
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. – 2 Corinthians 5:21
These verses speak of something theologians call “substitutionary atonement,” that Jesus Christ substituted himself in our place. Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins, “the wages of sin is death.” – Romans 6:23.
Do you get this? Jesus didn’t come only to set a good example for us to follow. He made payment for our sin before a Holy God. He took upon Himself the sins of the world. God poured out on Christ all His wrath, anger, and all of His judgment for all of the wicked things that we have ever or will ever do.
Luther wrote it like this,
“Our most merciful Father…sent his only Son into the world and laid upon him…the sins of all men saying: Be thou Peter that denier; Paul that persecutor, blasphemer and cruel oppressor; David that adulterer; that sinner which did eat the apple in Paradise; that thief which hanged upon the cross; and briefly be thou the person which hath committed the sins of all men; see therefore that thou pay and satisfy for them. Here now comes the law and saith: I find him a sinner…therefore let him die upon the cross. And so he setteth upon him and killeth him. By this means the whole world is purged and cleansed from all sins.”
The Bible repeatedly declares that Jesus Christ went to the cross, not just as our example but as our substitute. Jesus went to the cross as a substitute in our place. He died for our sins. Jesus alone can reconcile a holy God to a sinful people. What a great and wonderful exchange! Was there ever such love?