New City Catechism 22.2
Question 22: Why must the Redeemer be truly human?
Answer: That in human nature he might on our behalf perfectly obey the whole law and suffer the punishment for human sin; and also that he might sympathize with our weaknesses.
It was specifically through his human nature that Jesus Christ “suffered the punishment for human sin.” By going to the cross as a sinless man, he offered up his own life in the place of his covenant people, bearing in himself the punishment that our sins deserved.
Most kids first hear the word “substitute” when they have a substitute teacher at school, and they learn that the word refers to someone who stands in the place of another. In his death for us on the cross, Jesus died as a substitute in our place. He did not deserve death, but the justice of God demanded an answer for sin, and in God’s covenantal arrangement, Jesus Christ stood in the place of all who would ultimately believe in him, taking the punishment that we deserved so that we would never have to face it. Consequently, no one who is in Christ will ever face the wrath of God. Our covenant head has already faced it for us. This is love beyond our ability to fathom.
Suggested passage for personal or family reading: 1 John 2:1-2. What does this passage teach us about sin? What does it teach us about Jesus Christ, his sacrifice, and his priestly intercession? Does it indicate any possibility that anyone in the world might be saved apart from Christ?
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