A single stroke – Jesus’ death

By Dave Henning / March 21, 2023

“The cross shows that God is committed to both justice and forgiveness; there is no pitting one against the other.  When Jesus died on the cross, it meant that in a single stroke justice was done on sin and the door for forgiveness opened. . . .  We must pursue both together as well.”- Timothy Keller

“In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”- 2 Corinthians 5:19 (ESV)

Timothy Keller concludes Chapter 6 of Forgive with one of the most famous stories of the justice and love of God – the Exodus.  Because, Pastor Keller stresses, the account of the Passover reveals two remarkable truths.

First, the ‘angel that brings death’ (Contemporary English Version), the bearer of God’s wrath on evil and sin, passed over every home in Egypt.  Thus, no hierarchy existed between the ‘good’ Israelites and the ‘bad’ Egyptians.  For all fall short of the glory of God.  The children of Israel needed grace salvation as much as the Egyptians.  As the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous, not even one.”

Second, only substitution satisfies justice and love together.  All sin incurs a debt that never vanishes.  So, either someone substitutes for you so you can be forgiven, or you pay the penalty yourself.  Therefore, when you join the truths of the sinfulness of all people with our universal need for a substitute, we see that the Passover clearly points beyond itself.

In conclusion, when Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples on the night before His death, the disciples expected Jesus to talk about ‘the bread of our affliction.’  Instead, Jesus referred to His broken body, the bread of His affliction.  Thus, Jesus’ suffering and death provided the ultimate liberation for us.  Above all, Pastor Keller adds:

“There may have been a roasted lamb on the table, but the true Lamb of God was at the table (emphasis author’s).”

Today’s question: How do you pursue both the justice and forgiveness obtained through a single stroke of Jesus’ death on the cross?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Loving humility – marvelously strong”

About the author

Dave Henning

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