Friday, 11 December 2009

The Cross: Biblical foundations 2

(continuing the series on the Cross by guest blogger Mick Taylor)

The New Testament builds on the foundations of the OT and in a whole array of ways; through allusions, images, quotes and direct statements it makes the point that Christ took our punishment. Here are just a few examples.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Christ asks

"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39)

What is the cup which is so devastating to contemplate but the cup of God’s wrath?

The cup (poterion) refers not only to suffering and death but, as often in the OT also to God’s wrath. (for example Isaiah 51:15; Jeremiah 25:15 see also Rev 14.10)(D.A. Carson …….)

More than once in the Book of Acts the inspired summaries of apostolic preaching give the theologically laden reference to Christ hanging on a tree. (Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29) The significance of this phrase might not be obvious to modern readers but in context it is a way of saying that the punishment of God’s curse for sin is taken for God’s people by Christ. Paul makes this clear in Galatians where he writes:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." (Galatians 3:13)

In less opaque language Paul explicitly writes that

… there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus … (why? Because)…God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, (Romans 8:1 & 3)

What could be clearer? There is no condemnation because there is no fear of judgment and there is no fear of judgment because another has been condemned in our place.