Question 23: Why must the Redeemer be truly God?
Answer: That because of his divine nature his obedience and suffering would be perfect and effective; and also that he would be able to bear the righteous anger of God against sin and yet overcome death.
When you think about the cross, it is important to remember that God did not send a third party to die in our place. Because Jesus Christ is fully God, we can rightly say that God, in the Person of his Son, gave himself over death for us. The cross was an act of divine self-substitution. Although we justly deserved the wrath of God for our wicked rebellion against him, God instead took his own wrath upon himself by sending God the Son to die in our place.
This way of understanding the cross highlights for us the magnitude of God’s love for us. Although we can face any terror in heaven or on earth if we know that God is for us (Rom. 8:31-39), the most terrifying reality any of us could ever face is God’s wrath. To be under the curse of his final judgment is to be without hope altogether. And yet, God the Son willingly submitted himself to the experience of the wrath of God, doing so in full hope that he would pass through judgment to the other side and come out of the tomb on the third day vindicated. Only one who is God could have done this for us. And only one who is God, because of his great love, would have done this for us.
Suggested passage for personal or family reading: 1 John 4:7-12. What does this passage teach us about how we know God’s love for us? What should we do in response to God’s love?