Category Archives: Pierced For Our Transgressions

“The best part of the best news that the world has ever heard” by J.I. Packer

“Throughout my sixty-three years as an evangelical believer, the penal substitutionary understanding of the cross of Christ has been a flashpoint of controversy and division among Protestants.

Since one’s belief about the atonement is bound up with one’s belief about the character of God, the terms of the gospel, and the Christian’s inner life, the intensity of the debate is understandable. If one view is right, others are more or less wrong, and the definition of Christianity itself comes to be at stake.

As I grow old I want to tell everyone who will listen: ‘I am so thankful for the penal substitutionary death of Christ. No hope without it.’

That is where I come now as I attempt this brief vindication of the best part of the best news that the world has ever heard.”

–J.I. Packer, “Penal Substitution Revisited,” In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007), 21-22.

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“Here, human justice condemns itself” by Donald Macleod

“Jesus was acquitted by the same lips as condemned Him: ‘I find no basis for a charge against this man,’ (Luke 23:4).

Here, human justice condemns itself. The criminal is on the bench, not in the dock, just as in the person of Caiaphas the blasphemer is the one at the altar, not the One on the cross.

The judge acquits the prisoner, and then sentences Him to be flogged and crucified.”

–Donald Macleod, Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014), 32.

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“Slow motion” by Donald Macleod

“When it comes to Good Friday the Gospels go into slow motion. They have passed over in silence whole decades of Jesus’ life, and even when they pick up the threads of the public ministry there are weeks and months of which they say nothing.

But when it comes to the crucifixion we have the sequence frame by frame; almost, indeed, an hourly bulletin. The crucifixion narrative goes into slow motion.

It is the pivot on which the world’s redemption turns, and it involves such a sequence of separate events that we assume, instinctively, that they must have occupied several days. Instead we find to our astonishment that they all occurred on one day; and the events of that one single day are reported in meticulous detail.

Our printed Bibles do not, unfortunately, highlight the significance of Mark 14:17, where the evangelist introduces his account of the Last Supper with the words, ‘when evening came’. Unpretentious though they sound, they are momentous.

The Jewish day began with the sunset, and this ‘evening’ marks the beginning of Good Friday. Fifteen hours later, Jesus would be crucified, but these intervening hours would themselves be crammed with drama: the Last Supper, Gethsemane, the betrayal, the arrest and the trial; then the crucifixion, followed by the entombment.

From the Last Supper to His burial, a mere twenty-four hours; and so detailed is the account of His last few hours that we know exactly what happened at 9 o’clock in the morning (the third hour), at midday (the sixth hour) and at 3 o’clock (the ninth hour).

Against the background of the previous indifference to chronology, such detail is remarkable, and serves to underline once again the evangelists’ concentration on Jesus’ death.”

–Donald Macleod, Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014), 22-23.

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“The cross of Christ is the foundation of foundations” by Herman Witsius

“The Cross of Christ is the foundation of foundations, and the pillar of sacred wisdom; without which it is impossible to understand the mysteries of our religion, to attain genuine holiness, or to inherit eternal life.”

–Herman Witsius, Sacred Dissertations on the Apostles’ Creed, Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 1681/2010), 2: 62.

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“The Messiah in the Old Testament” by Stephen Charnock

“The right apprehensions of the promises concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament, what He was to be, what He was to do, cannot let you be ignorant of Him in the New.”

–Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse Of Christ Our Passover,” The Works of Stephen Charnock, Volume 4 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1865/2010), 4: 535.

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“The kingdom of God comes in power, but the power of the gospel is Christ crucified” by Jeremy Treat

“The thief on the cross looked at the man from Nazareth being crucified next to him and said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’ (Luke 23:42). Somehow this man conceived of the crucified Jesus as ruling over a kingdom.

While the title on Christ’s cross—’The King of the Jews’—makes explicit that there is a connection between the kingdom and the cross, perhaps the crown of thorns provides the best image for explaining how they relate. This is not, after all, the first time that thorns have shown up in the story.

Adam was to be a servant-king in the garden, but because he did not exercise dominion over the ground and the animals, the serpent ruled over him and the ground was cursed by God. Thorns first appear as a direct result and manifestation of the curse (Gen 3:17–18).

Jesus comes as the last Adam, the faithful servant-king who not only fulfills Adam’s commission of ruling over the earth but removes the curse by taking it onto Himself. As Jesus wore the crown of thorns, He bore the curse of God. He is the ‘[seed] of a woman’ who crushed Satan with a bruised heel (Gen 3:15).

He is the seed of Abraham who ‘redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us . . . so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles’ (Gal 3:13–14). The thorns, which were a sign of the curse and defeat of Adam, are paradoxically transformed into a sign of the kingship and victory of Jesus.

As Augustine said, the crown of thorns is a symbol that ‘the kingdom which was not of this world overcame that proud world, not by the ferocity of fighting, but by the humility of suffering.’

Jesus is the king who reigns by bearing the curse of the people whom He so loves. The connection between the cross and the curse, however, does reveal that the title given to Jesus during his crucifixion—’The King of the Jews’—was only partially correct.

Inasmuch as the task of the Jews was to bring God’s blessing to all the earth (Gen 12:3) and thereby reverse the curse of sin in Genesis 3–11, Jesus—the Jewish Messiah—was claiming His throne not only over Israel but over all the earth. God accomplished His mission of restoring His creation through Jesus as He was enthroned as king on the cross.

The kingdom of God comes in power, but the power of the gospel is Christ crucified.”

–Jeremy R. Treat, The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014), 252-253.

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“The priceless merit of His sufferings” by J.C. Ryle

“We must not be content with a vague general belief, that Christ’s sufferings on the cross were vicarious. We are intended to see this truth in every part of His passion.

We may follow Him all through, from the bar of Pilate, to the minute of His death, and see Him at every step as our mighty Substitute, our Representative, our Head, our Surety, our Proxy, the Divine Friend who undertook to stand in our stead, and by the priceless merit of His sufferings, to purchase our redemption.

Was He scourged? It was that ‘through His stripes we might be healed.’

Was He condemned, though innocent? It was that we might be acquitted though guilty.

Did He wear a crown of thorns? It was that we might wear the crown of glory.

Was He stripped of His raiment? It was that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness.

Was He mocked and reviled? It was that we might be honored and blessed.

Was He reckoned a malefactor, and numbered among transgressors? It was that we might be reckoned innocent, and justified from all sin.

Was He declared unable to save Himself? It was that He might be able to save others to the uttermost.

Did He die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful of deaths? It was that we might live forevermore, and be exalted to the highest glory.

Let us ponder these things well. They are worth remembering.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1856/2012), 314. Ryle is commenting on Matthew 27:45-56.

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