Guy Harrison wrote, ‘Christians often juxtapose [place together] the horror of Jesus’ crucifixion with the love God shows us by allowing His Son to suffer and die.’ 1 He basically says, ‘How can God show His love to us, by letting His own Son suffer and die?’ To answer it we have to begin with Genesis, not with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Adam and Eve were originally with God in the garden. They ‘heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.’ 2 It sounds as if they regularly visited with God face to face in their innocent state. Now we come in contact with God’s brilliance that is seldom mentioned. In His wisdom, God did not want another Lucifer or Judas in His eternal Kingdom. Adam and Eve were going to be tested. God gave them a very easy command: they may eat of all the fruit, except the fruit from one tree. If they ate of it, they would surely die.3 Most people know the story. They ate and were expelled from the garden, away from God’s presence and the agent who incited them to disobey God was ‘that ancient serpent, called the devil, or Satan’. 4
This episode in Genesis 3 illustrates one of the most profound miracles of God. He shows that He is both just and merciful. He has to judge their sin. But He wants to save Adam and Eve. So He clothed them with skins of animals. Why? Because of the principle of exchange. The innocent animals were killed. They paid the death penalty for Adam’s sin, and Adam and Eve were forgiven. God was just because the sin was punished, but He was also merciful because the guilty were pardoned.
Animal lovers will probably cry their hearts out, but it is to no avail. They can do nothing about it because it happened in the past. Today we know that Jesus was the Lamb who was sacrificed,5 because without blood, there is no forgiveness [of sin].6 In Psalm 89:14 we read, ‘Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne, love and faithfulness go before you.’
So if Jesus died for the whole world’s sin, is God righteous to send billions to hell? The answer is: His fair exchange of mercy for judgement is available to all people. By grace we are saved, by faith in what God did.7 The guilty can transfer their condemnation on Jesus and go free. Yet they refuse it. They insist that they will pay for their own sins with eternal punishment. They throw God’s supreme act of mercy, back into His face.
This answers Guy’s question about Christians believing God sent His beloved Son to die on our behalf. That is justice and mercy in action, unparalleled in the history of mankind.
- Kindle edition, location 189,199 of 5739
- Genesis 3:8
- Genesis 2:16 -17
- Revelation 12:9
- Hebrews 9:12,14,28
- Hebrews 9:22b
- Ephesians 2:8