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New City Catechism 20.3

Question 20: Who is the Redeemer?

Answer: The only Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, in whom God became man and bore the penalty for sin himself.

Not only did God the Son add humanity to himself, becoming the God-man in the incarnation, but he also “bore the penalty for sin himself” by dying on the cross in the place of sinners. The meaning of the cross of Jesus Christ is varied and rich, but the heart of it all is the bearing of the penalty for sin in our place. He died as a substitute, and he died under a penalty for sins he did not commit.

This interpretation of the cross offends many people today. They bristle at the idea that God would inflict a penalty at all, or they bristle at the idea that God would inflict a penalty on an innocent Man in place of the guilty. This view of the cross does not flatter us; it makes clear how costly our sin is. But it magnifies the love of God by showing us how far God is willing to go to save us even while remaining true to himself and his own justice. He could not merely overlook sin and leave it without any penalty. To do so would be to deny his own holiness. This is why Jesus bore the wrath of God for us, and in doing so demonstrated greater love for us than we could ever imagine.

Suggested passage for family or personal reading: Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Who is the “servant” Isaiah speaks of here? What did the Lord do to him, and why?

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