Several years ago in California, a young woman was stopped for speeding. She was given a ticket and sentenced to appear before the judge. The Judge read off her citation and asked, "What is your plea? Guilty or not guilty?" "Guilty your honor," she replied. The Judge brought down the gavel and said, pay $100 or ten days."
Then an amazing thing happened. The Judge stood up, took off his robe, went over to the clerk, and paid the fine in full. What?s the explanation for this? The Judge was her father. He loved his daughter, to be sure, but at that moment he was her judge. His daughter had broken the law He couldn?t simply say, "Because I love you, I forgive you. You may now leave." If he had done that there would have been a miscarriage of justice in his court. He would not have remained a righteous Judge. By paying the fine himself, the law was satisfied, justice was done, and his daughter was set free.
In a similar way, God sat upon his judgment seat. No matter how much God loved man, he was forced to bring down the gavel of death. His justice wouldn?t allow him to do less. Because God loved man so deeply, he came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ and paid off man?s debt in full. He did it by dying as man?s substitute on a hill called Calvary.
Scripture says, "Christ appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself....
He by the grace of God tasted death for every man" (Heb. 2:9; 9:26).
It?s true, Christ healed the sick, cast out demons, restored withered hands, cleansed lepers of their disease, caused the lame to walk, and raised the dead to life. But this was not his primary purpose for coming. His primary purpose for coming was to give his life a ransom for sin.., to lay a foundation for God to forgive sin, not at the expense of his righteousness, but in keeping with it.
As his earthly ministry drew to a close, Christ took his disciples aside and said:
?Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death. They shall deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified. But on the third day he shall rise again." Christ set his face like a flint to go to Jerusalem even though he knew that cruel mockings, scourgings and death awaited him. The hour had come on the calendar of God when an adequate atonement for sin was to be made.
Following the last supper, Christ took his disciples out to the Mount of Olives.
He said, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death." Then going a little further into the garden alone, he fell on his face and prayed: "O, my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. If man?s salvation can be obtained in any other way, spare me the pain and agony of the cross." For three agonizing hours Christ prayed and sweat great drops of blood. Then, knowing that there was no other way for man?s debt of sin to be paid, he looked up to Heaven and said, "Thy will be done." Returning to his disciples he said, "Rise, let us be going. The hour is come when the son of man is betrayed."
When the unruly mob arrived with spears and clubs, Christ surrendered himself to them, even though he knew 12 legions of angels were standing in the wings of the garden ready to deliver him.
Peter whipped out his sword and drove the crowd backward. He was ready to take off the head of anyone who laid a finger on Christ. With tenderness Christ touched Peter on the shoulder and said, "Peter put your sword away. This is the way it has to be.. for the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matt. 26:52; 20:28).
The bloodthirsty mob accused Christ falsely before Pilate, but he opened not his mouth. They said he was worthy to die because he claimed to be the Son of God, and to them that was nothing short of blasphemy
They mocked Christ unmercifully, spat in his face, smote him with the palms of their hands, pressed a crown of thorns upon his brow and plucked out his beard. They stripped him of his robe, scourged him unmercifully and hung him up to die. Wagging their heads they cried: "He saved others, but he cannot save himself."
They didn?t know that if he had saved himself from the agonies of that cross, he would not have been able to save others. God couldn?t pardon man?s sin until its debt had been paid. His holiness wouldn?t allow it.
The agony, the pain, the thirst and the loneliness that Christ endured on the cross were awful. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" he cried. Finally, when the debt of sin was fully paid, when divine justice was done and the way of salvation was open to all, Jesus lifted his eyes toward Heaven and said, "It is finished," and died.
When Jesus said "It is finished" on the cross he was announcing that justice had been done, the debt of sin had been paid. God?s righteousness had been satisfied. From that point on God was free to forgive sin, not at the expense of his righteousness, but in keeping with it. The way of salvation has been opened to one and to all, not by the good works that people perform, but by the death of Christ on a hill called Calvary.