Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures.
The phrase, according to the scriptures, is loaded and one that cannot be easily narrowed down to theory, yet that’s what we often do. Jesus did not come according to a theory, or to fulfill a theory. He came to do the will of God as it is written of him in the volume of the book ~ Hebrews 10:7.
N.T. Wright has so beautifully stated the truth of this, “When Jesus wanted to teach his disciples the meaning of his death, he didn’t give them a theory, he gave them a meal.”
There is so much truth we miss when attempting to boil the meaning of the cross down to a theory. Boasting in theological models often leaves us on the outside of the Biblical narrative, causing us to miss the teachings of the Master.
On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus gave a master illustration of what his death was about. It would be a lesson that the disciples would draw on for the rest of their lives as they would be given the task of teaching us how to follow Jesus, and what it means to be his servant.
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. ~ John 13:1-7
When we reduce the cross to a theory we lose the meaning and the beauty of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. The cross is so much more than a substitutionary work. The cross serves as the standard of the life we are to live in this world as followers of Jesus. The cross leads us into a continuous laying down of our own lives.
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. ~ Matthew 10:38
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. ~ Matthew 16:24
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps… ~ 1 Peter 2:20-21
The cross is to be interwoven into our very lives and service to God, not merely as some sort of divine exchange from which we benefit (his loss = our gain). Such ideas are often rooted in the very selfishness caused by sin for which Christ died to free us.
The cross is about the narrow way that leads us into life that fully glorifies God and not ourselves. Consider that Jesus knew that his hour had come, and he knew that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God, and was returning to God. It was then, he arose from supper, and laid aside his garments.
Jesus, the Son of God, the King of glory, laid aside his garments to serve. His death was about to underscore and put an exclamation mark on this truth. Everything Jesus had been teaching his disciples about God’s Kingdom was about to reach its culmination at the cross. The King of glory, was himself, the greatest servant of all – No one could, or would, ever, out serve the King. There is no boasting but in him alone!
The work of Christ at the cross is so much more glorious than a substitutional theory. His death teaches us about denying ourselves, glorifying God, surrendering to God, trusting God, loving God, and what it means to love others.
Sin is so much more than a moral trespass. Sin corrupts entirely, and removes us from being the image bearers of God, for which we were created. In Christ, the beauty and glory of the image of God is restored to humanity, and it only comes through Christ and the cross.