The Death of Jesus (The Consummate Redemption)
by Lawrence W. Hilliard

"Who knoweth if to die be but to live, and that called life by mortals be but death?"

In the words of E. E. Cummings death is the, "Eater of all things lovely--time! Upon whose watering lips poses a moment (futile, proud, a costly morsel of sweet tears) gesticulates and disappears." (Puella Mea, p. 20) Death degenerates the most beautiful life and terminates the progress of man. It mars our self-made image and consumes the best laid plans. Death promises no guarantee of any duration. It can be evaded temporarily but it will finally conquer at the last breath. Death affirms only one reality: a cul-de-sac. Nations as well as individuals succumb to death's downward drag that consigns all civilizations into the dust bin of history. Years ago the British philosopher Arnold Toynbee was asked what was the common denominator of the decline of nations, he replied tersely, quoting the Apostle Paul, "The wages of sin is death." (Rom. 6:23, Study of History, Vol. 4, p. 120). The collective and individual decisions that comprise a life, finally add up to a consummate payday. No known quantity or currency can buy back the foreclosure of the soul.

"O vanity of the children of Adam, who boast themselves of their nobility, because they do not know their degradation through sin."
—Quesnel, 1634-1719, Reflections Morales

"For the Lord has built up Zion; he has appeared in his glory. He has regarded the prayer of the destitute and has not despised their prayer. This will be written for the generation to come; that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord. For he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the Lord gazed upon the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to set free those who were doomed to death..." (Ps. 102:16-20). All men are in a state of what the Psalmist calls, "Bene Mawet" [i.e., literally sons of death], verse 20 and Psalms 79:11. Death is at the root of mans nature, as a sinner under the executionary justice of God. This sentence of judgment resulted from disobedience to God's express command stemming from Genesis 2:17, "...but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die. (Lit. Heb. "dying you shall die.") (Gen. 3:3, Ezek. 18:4, 20). A duality of death is affirmed. Adam's disobedience entailed immediate severance from the life of God. Communion degenerated into separation and discord. Alienation would characterize Adam's relationship with God, a fellowship was lost. "According to Gen. 2:17, disruption of the proper relationship with the Source of Life entails death." (Bruce Waltke, Old Testament Theology, p. 230). Adam's body and soul would know progressively the downward drag of God's judgment but the spiritual death was immediate. "The life of man's spirit has withdrawn from communion with God, and is, as it were, destroyed. The life of his soul, through this despiritualization, has lost all true life. The life of the body has fallen into a state of corruption. The nature of man's being has sunken back to its lowest basis, and, so to speak, to its chaos, that is, to dust; and the return to dust (Gen. 3:19) is only the end of the process of dissolution which had begun long before." (Franz Delitzsch, An Old Testament History of Redemption, p. 23).

Jewish exegetes interpret Genesis 2:17, as indicating that the death penalty on Adam and Eve would involve all future generations. "Since the verb 'you shall surely die' uses the root 'die' more than once, what is indicated is the death penalty for Adam, for Eve, and for coming generations." (Jacob Neusner, Christan Faith and Bible of Judaism, p. 61). By his fall, Adam brought death upon himself and upon the entire human race. The consequences of Adam's sin spread to all his posterity. As the root and head of mankind, Adam's sin has infiltrated and corrupted all humanity. "For how does it profit us all that in the present we must live in grief and after death look for punishment? O thou Adam, what hast thou done? For though it was thou that sinned, the fall was not thine alone, but ours also who are thy descendents! For how does it profit us that the eternal age is promised to us, whereas we have done the works that bring death?" (4 Ezra 7.116ff). "One single negative command was given him [Adam]. This he violated, and see how many deaths have been decreed for him and for all his generations until the end of time." (Sifra 27a, Rom. 5:12). When Adam sinned the volitional door was opened for death to enter and contaminate his unsullied soul, with a far-greater vitiation awaiting, the pollution of the stream of humanity originating from him. The empirical proof of the consequences of Adam's sin is everywhere around us, every son and daughter of Adam dies. In the succinct words of Martin Lloyd Jones, "...the world is a place of cemeteries." "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned..." (Rom. 5:12). "For since by a man came death..." (I Cor. 15:21). Sin is fatal to man. "...when Adam sinned he drew upon him a defiled power, and defiled himself and all the world." (Zohar in Gen. fol. 37.1, B. T. Baba Bathra, 17a, see also Rom. 5:15, 17, 18-19). "If Adam first sinned and brought premature death on all, each of his descendents has incurred future pain." (Bar. 54:15). The duality of death confronts man--spiritual separation from God and biological degeneration that will ultimately result in physical death. This dual death, "...without doubt is the punishment of their body by itself, and also of the soul by itself." (Joseph Albo, Book of Principles, 1.4:C41).

So grave was the transgression of Adam that it killed all men, holding them in a dominion of death awaiting final condemnatory judgment. In 4 Ezra 3:22, sin is called the "disease" that has become permanent in the human heart, "For the first Adam bearing a wicked heart transgressed, and was overcome; and so be all they that are borne of him. Thus infirmity was made permanent; and the law (also) in the heart of the people with the malignity of the root; so that the good departed away, and the evil abodes still." Humanity lives a life of paradox; there is temporary physical existence, though the body and mind are decaying and ultimately destined for the grave (Gen. 3:19, Job 21:32-33, 34:15, Ps. 90:3, Ecc. 12:7, Heb. 9:27), yet there is one constant in our nature, death, we are "dead in transgressions and sins." (Eph. 2:1). We have been severed from the life of God (Isa. 59:2). Sinful humanity is considered by God to be as dead as a decayed corpse. A sinner, "has all the passive properties belonging to a corpse..." (Abraham Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit, p. 338). In disobedience and rebellion against God, the children of Adam exist as living tombs, though briefly alive physically, the brevity of such is likened by God to one exhalation (Job 7:7, 9:25, Ps. 39:5, 78:39, 89:47, Isa. 40:6-8, James 1:1-11, 4:14, I Pet. 1:24). "For the wicked are considered as if dead while still alive..." (Ber. 18a, b, see also Eph. 2:1, 5, Col. 2:13). We are spiritually dead, for the root of our nature has been cut off from God as the creative source of life (Gen. 2:9, Ps. 36:9, Jer. 2:13, Jn. 1:4, 5:26). "...he [Adam] was immediately arraigned, tried, and condemned to death, was found guilty of it, and became obnoxious to it, and death at once began to work in him; sin sowed the seeds of it in his body, and a train of miseries, afflictions, and diseases began to appear, which at length issued in death. Moreover, a spiritual or moral death immediately ensued; he lost his original righteousness, in which he was created; the image of God in him was deformed; the powers and faculties of his soul were corrupted, and he became dead in sins and trespasses..." (John Gill, Notes on Genesis 2:17).

"...there is no death without sin."
—T. Bab. Shabb fol. 55.1

Inhabiting a dying body and incapable of restoring himself to God, the Source of Life, man is a prisoner to death's judgment and degeneration. "This whole world is but a universal churchyard, our common grave, and the life and motion that the greatest persons have in it are but the shaking of buried bodies in their grave by an earthquake. That which we call life is but a week of death--seven days spent in dying, and there is an end. Our birth dies in infancy, and our infancy dies in youth, and youth and the rest die in age, and age also dies and determines all." (John Dunne, poem "Death's Duel", The John Dunne Treasury, p. 91). Death gained sovereignty over man, it is supreme--no one escapes its rule. Death as a mighty king rules over man (Job 15:21, 18:14). "Adam was driven out of the garden and access to the Tree of Life was shut off by the cherubim and the flaming sword; for his sin all his descendents are in bondage to death, even so righteous a man as Moses." (Ecclus. R. on Eccles. 7, 13). Nothing but a representative atonement, Divinely provided, could free the sons of Adam from such an inextricable tyranny of body and soul, "...the whole congregation of Israel have need of atonement for the sin of the first Adam, for he was reckoned as the whole congregation." (Zohar in Gen. fol. 76.3, 36.3). Only by a Divinely appointed atoning sacrifice (Isaiah 53:6-7, Jn. 1:29) could the shroud of death (Isa. 25:6-8) be removed from off the sons of Adam.

"The wage of the righeous person is surely life; the earnings of the wicked person is surely sin."
—Proverbs 10:16, B. Waltke translation

"...partly by way of prophetic preaching the Old Testament developed with increasing force the thought that man's sin makes him a debtor before God."
—T. D. N. T. Vol. 5, p. 561

Frequently in Jewish writings sins are referred to as "debts." Man has incurred an onerous burden of debtedness to God. The prayer of Solomon is paraphrased in the Targum, "...and hear thou the petition of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place; and do thou receive it from the place of the house of thy Shekinah, from heaven; and do thou accept their prayer and forgive their debts." (Targum on II Chron. 6:21). Man is in a perpetual state of bankruptcy to God. The incurred debt that sin has amassed renders the individual an abject debtor under the mortgage payment of spiritual and biological death. "The subsistance which sin pays and offers is death." (T. D. N. T., Vol. 5, p. 592). This obligation does not terminate at one's death but continues throughout eternity. "...death is not to be regarded merely as the final payment, but as that which already casts its dark shadow over life, a portent of the deeper darkness to come;..." (T. D. N. T. Vol. 5, p. 595). Before God, man is a perpetual debtor, his life is spiritually and morally bankrupt. "Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die." (Ezek. 18:4). "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 6:23). "...for the reward of a good deed is a good deed, and the wages of sin is sin." (Aboth 4:2). "The Lord will collect from every man what he owes Him, that is to say, He will punish everyone for his sins." (Commentary of Rabbi Menahem ben Solomon Ha Meiri). In the face of such poverty God still extends his grace and goodness. We are to pray that our debts be forgiven, Matt. 6:12.

" bribes, O foolish ones, can reach God's tribunal."

"A brother's ransom who can pay
Or alter God's eternal doom?
What hand can wrest from death his prey,
It's banquet from the rotten tomb?"
—Benjamin Hall Kennedy, 1860

As a debtor to God man cannot find a ransom price, a treasury of wealth, that can buy back his forfeited life from the sentence of death. The soul is of incalculable worth and has amassed such a debt of obligation to God, that all the riches of a monetary ransom cannot pay the price to redeem one soul from eternal death. "No man can by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him--for the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever--that he should live on eternally; that he should not undergo decay." (Ps. 49:7-9). The literal Hebrew of verse 7 reads, "...a brother can no one redeeming redeem." This double-expression emphasizes that the idea of redemption is the prominent concern of the Psalmist. It is the overriding need that the man of wealth cannot meet. Though a man may ransom his brother from temporary servitude (Lev. 25:48), the bondage of eternal death renders all men condemned paupers. The accumulated wealth of the nations secured by a concerned brother would be insufficient to pay the penalty of sin, death in this life and eternal separation from God. All the riches collected over a lifetime is not equivalent to the redemption of one soul. God cannot be paid off when death comes. "All the more now that I am being led before the King of kings of kings, the Holy One blessed be He, who lives and endures forever and to all eternity; whose anger, if He gets angry at me, is an eternal anger; whose punishment, if He should punish me, is an eternal punishment; whose slaying, if He should slay me, is an eternal death; whom I cannot bribe with wealth or appease with words!" (Simeon ben Zemah Duran, 1631-1444 A.D., The Living Talmud, p. 119). "If men give all the world's wealth, they cannot ransom another soul: for the soul with which a man sins no indemnity can be paid by another." (Sifre Deut., Ha-azinu, Sect. 329 folio 139b). Once dead all men, rich or poor, will remain death's captive. One cannot even be spared physical death. The price of the soul is exorbitant, only God can redeem man. "Indeed a rich man may redeem his brother from debt, or from a prison, into which he is cast for it, by paying his debts for him; or from thraldom and bondage, being taken captive and becoming a prisoner of war, by giving a ransom for him. This he may do with respect to man; but, with respect to God, he cannot, with all his riches, pay the debts he owes to the law and justice of God; nor free him from his bondage to sin, Satan, and the law, by whom he is held a captive. He cannot, with all his money, secure him from dying; nor, when dead, bring him back from the grave; and much less deliver him from eternal death, or wrath to come; this only God can do." (John Gill, Notes on Psalms 49:7). Without the redeeming power of God man's indebtedness is irrecoverable. It can never be redeemed. "For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:27). Man cannot regain what he has lost. This is a hellish bargain. There is no solution to the ultimate dilemma posed in Psalms 49:7-9. Many ancient Rabbis interpret Psalms 49:9 as referring to the work of the Messiah. "Our Rabbis teach that this verse (Ps. 49:9) speaks of King Messiah, who will die, redeem the Patriarchs, and then live forever without seeing corruption." (R. Moses Haddarchon, 1000 A.D., quoted from Cooke's Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 284). This transaction is humanly impossible. A cul-de-sac of despair holds out but one answer, only God can redeem. "And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities." (Ps. 130:8).

"The sin offering comes on account of sin, and the guilt offering comes on account of sin."
—Mishnah tractate Zebahim 1.1

Man could not pay the debt of sin that he owed, eternal separation from God was his grievous obligation. Israel's only hope of redemption and restored communion with God rested on the Lord's provision of a substitutionary sacrifice, to make atonement for the sins of man. God would provide a representative to take the place of the individual, to endure the consequences of sin and pay its debt; thus releasing man from the sentence of judgment. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement (Heb. Kippur, "to cover over, wipe away, to shelter, to reconcile") for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement." (Lev. 17:11). No one can approach a Holy God with sin uncovered (Ps. 24:3-4) before the white ray of His eternal purity (Ps. 107:2, Dan. 7:9, Mal. 3:2). The prospect of such an existential encounter is death from the fire of God's holiness (Deut. 4:24, 9:3, Heb. 12:29). Only by an atoning sacrifice that covers over and takes away the sinner's sin, can a relation of reconciliation be established between a Holy God and sinful man, "I gave the soul for you on the altar, that the soul of the animal should be an atonement for the soul of the man." (Moses ben Nachmanides, 1194-1268 A.D., quoted from The Temple, Its Ministry and Services, Alfred Edersheim, p. 119). The barrier to God's forgiving sin has now been removed, " that it [sin] has no existence in relation to the penal justice of God." (Keil Delitzsch, Old Testament Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 197).

The blemish-free animal sacrifices {Ex. 12:5, Lev. 1:3-4, 4:3, 22:19-21), as a holy substitute, would suffer vicariously the punishment due the sinner. The transgressor under the judgment of God, in confession and repentance, would be forgiven, sin wiped away from God's sight and fellowship with Him restored. In the succinct words of Aben Ezra, "One soul is a substitute for another." (Alfred Edersheim, The Temple, Its Ministry and Services, p. 119). The provided substitute received the transferred sins from the offerer and the punishment of God's wrath (Ex. 30:12, Num. 16:47, Nah. 1:2-3, 5-6, Hab. 1:13, Rom. 1:17, 3:21-26, Gal. 3:10 and 13) descended upon the atoning sacrifice, thus sheltering man from the execution of God's judgment. The substitutionary sacrifice would make atonement, i.e., a covering over one's sins (Lev. 1:4-5, 9:7, 16:30, Num. 15:35), thus diverting the stroke of God's judgment due the sinner (Num. 25:3-13). " is before the Lord that both the covering and its effect take place (Lev. 4:35, 10:17, 16:30) the sin, or perhaps the person who has sinned, is covered before the sight of the Lord...Sin evokes the holy displeasure or wrath of God. Vengeance is the reaction of the holiness of God to sin, and the covering is that which provides for the removal of divine displeasure which the sin evokes." (John Murray, Redemption--Accomplished and Applied, p. 36). The sins of the sinner, now transferred to the head of the provided sin offering, would effectuate atonement. With a repentant heart man would walk away under the forgiveness and favor of God with no sin to his charge. "In view of the yearning for God's favor manifested in the bringing of the offering, accompanied by confession and humble prayer, God would, as it were, wipe out the offense from His sight. Atonement thus means to reconcile; to restore by atonement that inward sense of close relationship with God which is lost through sin, evil desire, or constant brooding upon sinful things." (J. H. Hertz, The Penteteuch and Haptorahs, p. 411-412). Substitutionary sacrifice was the divinely ordained provision in which sinful man, separated from God, could approach His holy presence and once again live in restored communion with God. "Thus the very act which is considered by the heathen as the greatest crime [the killing of cattle, goats, and lambs in sacrifice], is the means of approaching God, and obtaining His pardon for our sins." (Moses Maimonides, The Guide to the Perplexed, Part 3, Ch. XLVI).

The forgiven Jew fully understood that he should have been slain in judgment, in like manner as his sacrifice. "Properly speaking, the blood of the sinner should have been shed, and his body burned, as those of the sacrifices. But the Holy One--blessed be He!--accepted our sacrifice from us as redemption and atonement. Behold the full grace which Jehovah--blessed be He!--has shown to man! In His compassion and in the fullness of His grace he accepted the soul of the animal instead of his soul that through it there might be an atonement. Hence also the principle, so important as an answer to the question, 'Whether the Israelites of old had understood the meaning of sacrifices? He that brought a sacrifice required to come to the knowledge that that sacrifice was his redemption." (David de Pomis, 1525-1593 A.D., quoted from The Temple, Its Ministry and Services, p. 119-120). Inculcated within the soul of the offerer was the experiential knowledge of redemption, without a sacrifice all would be lost. "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven (Heb. Nasa, "to lift up, to carry away") whose sin is covered (Heb. Kasah, "to cover sin, when God pardons it")! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute (Heb. Chashab, "not charging to one's account") iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!" (Ps. 32:1,2). O the blessedness of this glorious exchange!

"Between the person of the man and the animal, which mediates through its blood, there is an endless difference."
—Franz Delitzsch, An Old Testament History of Redemption, p. 66

"It's (Israel's) whole sacrificial system was appointed in reference to this foreappointed Lamb (I Pet. 1:20), and consequently from Him derived all its significance and virtue."
—Adam Clarke

"All the good which I do unto you I do through the merit of the Messiah who was kept back all those years."
—Pesikta Rabbathi 146b

Throughout the years, millions of lambs had been sacrificed and their blood poured out or dashed against the great altar in Jerusalem to make atonement for the offerer and his household, but the sacrifice could only temporarily cover sin (Heb. 10:4-6). A disproportionate element was always present before the offerer; one lamb, though free of blemish, had no intrinsic worth equal to the man for whom it would die in the place of. Its sole redemptive quality came from God, who, as it were, conferred an atoning value on the solitary animal to cover over the confessed sins of the repentant offerer. "The riddle of the accumulated permission of animal sacrifice, and the connection of the atonement with the blood, finds its explanation here in the depths of the divine decree of salvation (Isa. 53:6, 10)." (Franz Delitzsch, An Old Testament History of Redemption, p. 143). This redemptive efficacy, which was the essence of the whole sacrificial system, was given value by an atoning merit stored away in heaven, for it was inherent in the nature of the, "...Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev. 13:8). The foreordained Lamb of sacrifice was the foundainhead of redemptive value for all the offerings in the Jewish sacrificial system. The disciple John is granted the august privilege of seeing the foundational reality that assures the consummation of God's redemption within time and throughout all eternity. He views the sacrificial love of Jesus portrayed in a pascal setting (the Passover Lamb, Ex. 12) as the eternal love that will remove sin and deliver creation into a state of a "new heaven and new earth." The eternal heart of Christ is disposed to fulfill the will of the Father thus securing salvation for all the eternally-chosen ones. Within time every lamb sacrificed on Jewish altars temporarily covered over sin, their atoning value was derived from the currency of Christ's eternal will to die sacrificially, before the eons of time and space were called into being. Jesus' eternal love (Jn. 15:9) knows no boundaries, it is from everlasting to everlasting. As one evangelical icon, John MacArthur recently said, "The Father loves you so much he murdered his son." Such cultural dementia of a challenged intellect. This is not a murder. In a distinctly Jewish context the Eternal Son's sacrificial love is portrayed as "The Passover Lamb." The Lamb whose sacrificial blood covered over all the believing Israelites' houses when the Angel of Death came through the land of Egypt. The Father gave the Son in sacrifice not by a homicide. All sin and guilt offerings had a derived value and meaning only in reference to Christ. The entire sacrificial system had no intrinsic value, for without Him they were mere slain carcasses--a futile religion of man. All sacrifices drew solely from His redemptive nature. "...All atonements which were ever made, were only effectual by His blood." (John Pearson, 1613-1686, On The Creed, Article 10). The Lamb was set apart, not as an emergency measure due to Adam's sin, but in the eternal purpose of God; the One consummate sacrifice was foreordained for the entire world to put away sin, "...the death of Christ was a redemptive sacrifice decreed in the counsels of eternity." (Robert Munce, The Book of Revelation, p. 256). "That death of Christ which was foreordained 'from the foundation of the world,' is said to have taken place in the counsels of Him with whom the end and the beginning are one.' (Henry Alford, Alford Greek New Testament). "Within his heart there is always found the affirmation to perform his father's will (Ps. 40:6-7, Zech. 13:7, Jn. 34:34, 5:30, 6:38, 8:39, Heb. 10:5-7, 9), a decree which encompassed, becoming the universal sin offering. He was slain in the father's eternal counsels." (Jamison, Fausset and Brown, Notes on Revelation 13:8). God is pictured in the Pesikta Rabbathi, 8th Century A.D., as making an agreement with the Messiah in heaven to come to earth and take upon him the yoke of sin. "Then God began to make a bargain with the Messiah and said to him, 'The iniquities of these souls who are stored away beside thee are destined in the future to bring thee under a yoke of iron, and they will make thee as a calf whose eyes have become dim and they will strangle thy breath under the yoke, and thy tongue will cleave to thy cheek. Doest thou accept this?' [Is this thy will?] The Messiah said, 'Will this anguish last many years?' God said, 'Seven years have I decreed. If thy soul is grieved, I will cast them out forthwith.' The Messiah replied, 'With rejoicing of heart and soul I accept all this, but under the condition that not one [soul] from Israel is lost. And not only the living shall be saved in my day, but those too who are hidden in the dust, and not only they, but also all the dead who have died from the days of Adam till now, and not only these, but even the abortions shall be saved in my day, and not only they, but also all whom thou hadst intended to create but were not created. On these conditions I am ready...'" (Pes. R. 162a, 162b-163a). The eternal treasury of the redemptive riches of the Son is the solitary payment that will cancel death's mortgage overhanging the captive of sin.

"O the sweet exchange, O the inscrutable creation, O the unlooked for benefits, that the sin of many should be put out of sight in one righteous man, and the righteousness of one should justify many sinners!"
—Epistle to Diognetus 9.5, Late Second Century

"But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering (Heb. ashem, "a trespass or compensatory offering"), He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand." (Isa. 53:10) Isaiah prophesies that the Messiah would bear the guilt of man's sin with its resultant punishment, as a compensatory offering. The ashem offering was a guilt or compensatory offering (Lev. 5:17-19, 6:1ff, 7:7, 15:17, 19:20-22, Num. 5:6-7). The offerer acknowledged that a debt had been incurred toward another person or God, for sin is a robbing of God. The offerer recognized that he had forfeited fellowship with God or his fellow Jew. Restitution or compensation was made to God in the person of the priest. "The trespass-offering was a restitution or compensation made to God," "...a payment or penance which made amends for the wrong done. Ashem, signifies first the guilt or death, then the compensation or penance and hence (Lev. 5:15) the sacrifice which discharges the debt or guilt and sets the man free." (Kiel & Delitzsch, Vol. 7, p. 332). The offering was a compensatory payment. The Messiah's death is portrayed as the complete payment that God provides for the entire indebtedness of man's sin. "The leper had to bring an ashem at his cleansing (Lev. 14:12, 21); probably as a compensation (which is the specific idea of the ashem) for the injury done to the holiness of God by his uncleanness. For the world's cleansing only the immaculate soul of the Righteous One could suffice! He who was looked upon as 'stricken' (Isa. 53:4) was making satisfaction for a race that was 'stricken.'" (W. Kay from F. C. Cooke Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, p. 369). In bearing the consequence of disobedience to God, the Messiah would remove the guilt incurred, death to the sinner. His death would discharge the debt, thus setting man free from their eternal obligation to God. This compensatory sacrifice would bring the treasury of his inherent righteousness to the debtor's prison, thus satisfying all claims laid against the transgressors. "He made Him twho knew no sin to be sin (i.e., a sin offering) on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (II Cor. 5:21). " Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him." (Heb. 9:28).

"...yet he has by one offering put away sin forever, so there is a perpetual virtue in his sacrifice to take it away, and there is a constant application of it for that purpose."
—John Gill

John the Baptist on seeing Jesus cries out, "...behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (Jn. 1:29). The Righteous One, the true Passover Lamb, had been provided. Atonement would be made not only for Israel but for the world. The atoning value of his redemptive death would embrace all nations throughout all generations. The redemptive efficacy of his death would not be restricted to a particular people, nation, timeframe or certain types of sins specified in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. "The saying of the Baptist was thus taken to mean that Jesus as the Lamb of God blots out the sin of the world by the expiatory efficacy of His Blood." "The Savior dying on the cross went as the substitute to death, and by the atoning power of his innocent dying He has cancelled the guilt." "The atoning efficacy of His death is not limited to Israel like that of the Pascal Lamb. As agnus Dei He makes atonement for the whole world, which, without distinction of race or religion, has come hopelessly under the judgment of God." (T. D. N. T., Vol. 1, p. 340). God would offer up His spotless Lamb (I Pet. 1:19) to be slain on the altar of Golgotha. He would life up and carry away the unbearable load of sin, as the substitutionary sacrifice. Within our nature is an albatross of sin that is ineradicable, as the onerous stone of Sissyphus. A condemnation awaits a future day of judgment. A judgment in which we will bear our own sins punishment eternally (Lev. 5:1, 17, Deut. 24:16, Ezek. 18:4, Rom. 5:12, 21). I cannot lift off this burdensome yoke for I am one with it. Left alone in this condition to bear my own sin, I have no hope. I am destined to stand before the Divine justice of God, the verdict of such is eternal death (Heb. 9:27). This searing truth is inflexible. Only one hope is afforded the condemned sinner, a Divinely-provided substitute to bear redemptively the guilt of the condemned sinner. My primal need is salvific, the weight of iniquity and its consequent punishment must be lifted off and borne by a sin offering as so graphically typified in the sacrificial lambs for Passover and Atonement. "All the sacrifices in the world would not satisfy God's righteousness (Mic. 6:7, Ps. 50:7-15). Hence, God alone can provide an atonement or expiation for sin, by which his wrath is assuaged. The righteous God is neither implacable nor capricious, but provides himself the 'ransom' or substitute sacrifice that would satisfy him." (Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament, p. 320, edited by Merrill Unger). By the death of the consummate sacrifice, the apex of redemption is achieved. The substitutionary sacrifice of Christ is the final act of atonement that God has provided for all mankind. "His death is the sum and the end of all sacrifices prescribed by the Old Testament ritual. It is the one sacrifice for the sins of all mankind." (Joachim Jeremias, The Central Message of the New Testament, p. 36). The finality of Christ's sacrifice and the permanency of the effect would remove sin forever from God's presence, "By His death, that one most true sacrifice offered on our behalf, He purged, abolished and extinguished...whatever guilt we had." "Though without guilt, Christ took our punishment upon Himself, destroying our guilt and putting an end to our punishment." (Augustine, The Trinity 4.17). "And you know that he appeared in order to take away sins..." (I Jn. 3:5). The early believers saw Jesus as the Divine Savior, fulfilling the long-awaited hope of complete atonement that the millions of sacrificial victims had only imperfectly pictured (Jn. 1:36, 4:42, Acts 13:23, Titus 2:13, I Thess. 1:12, I Pet. 1:1, 2:20, 3:2, 3:18). "And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world (I Jn. 4:14)." "Let us fix our thoughts intently on the blood of Christ, and know how precious it is to God His Father because being poured out for our salvation it brought the grace of repentance to the world." (Clement of Rome, Bishop of the Roman Christians, 95 A.D., I Corinthians C.VII).

"Lay down, now, a pledge (Heb. qarab, "to become surety, bail for, to mortgage, stand guarantee, a guarator") for me with Thyself; who is there that will be my guarantor?"
—Job 17:3

For Christ alone is the eternal guarantor of salvation (Heb. 7:25). His finished work as atoning sacrifice forever answers the demands of the Law and justice, freeing his people from the inestimable obligation, the debtor's prison of eternal death. The suffering Messiah has cancelled the I.O.U. of sin's mortgage of eternal death (Col. 2:14). His triumphant declaration at the moment of his death, "It is finished!" (Gk. tetelestai, "paid in full", Jn. 19:30), has rendered my indebtedness to God, as sin's debtor, paid in full. "Tetelestai", that is translated "it is finished", is in the perfect tense, indicating a completed action in the past, that has ongoing effects into the present. The Hebrew equivalent to the Greek "tetelestai" is the particle "kol." Kol was utilized to refer to the whole burnt offering that belonged solely to God (Deut. 13:16, 33:10). It was an offering solely dedicated to God. Kol conveys completion, perfection, entirety, nothing lacking. In the First Century tetelestai was utilized when the final payment was received by a creditor. The debt was paid in full. There was no longer any outstanding debt against the debtor. Jesus declares triumphantly that the debt of sin's payment has been "paid in full." The believer has been freed from his contract with death, for Christ's Blood has cancelled the full payment, a foreclosure of the soul. "With the currency of His own outpoured blood, redemption has been secured and I am now Christ's possession. "Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers but with precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." (I Pet. 1:18-19). "He (Christ) drew nigh to God, struck hands with him, gave his word and bond to pay the debts of his people; put himself in their law-place and stead, and became responsible to the law and justice for them; engaged to make satisfaction for their sins, to bring in everlasting righteousness for their justification, and to preserve and keep them, and bring them safe to eternal glory and happiness; and this was being a surety for them for good." (John Gill, Vol. 4, Notes on Psalm 119:122). The disciple John hears the anthem that reverberates throughout all eternity, the thematic hymn of the sacrifice of Christ, "And they sang a new song saying, 'Worthy are Thou to take the book, and to break its seal; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.'" (Rev. 5:9). Let us join in the eulogia, in concert with the hymn of eternity. Praise to the Lamb who was slain!

"Jesus for thee a body takes,
Thy guilt assumes, thy fetters breaks.
Discharging all thy dreadful debt--
And canst thou then such love forget?"
—Krishna Pal

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