Most of you reading this have heard and said it so many times, you may take it for granted. Jesus died on the cross “for us.” If I’m not careful, I can say a quick prayer and thank the Lord for what he did “for me” at Calvary without ever really thinking about what I’m saying.
It’s such a small phrase, and it’s found all over Scripture.
He “gave himself for us” (Titus 2:14).
He “died for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:10).
He “gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:2).
He became a “curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
It’s important that we understand—and reflect on—the significance of what that means. “For us” means he died in our place, as our substitute. “The wages of sin is death,” Paul writes, and because we’ve all sinned we deserve death (Romans 6:23; 3:23).
But because God is love, Jesus took the penalty that we deserved.
It’s a beautiful thing. The innocent was treated as a criminal so that the guilty might be acquitted. His righteousness was given to us, and our guilt was given to him.
I’ve always been intrigued at the Lord’s struggles in Gethsemane. I once thought it was because he dreaded the physical horrors of crucifixion, but I doubt that was foremost.
I suspect instead that he feared the reality of becoming a sin offering on our behalf. He knew that in order to redeem us, he had to bear the weight of our sin on his shoulders. More than that, he became guilty because of our guilt. We became innocent because of his innocence.
And he did it all “for us.”
For you. For me.
Because we’ve heard the story so many times, we can talk about it and even pray about it without facing the reality of it.
Today, in your meditation time, thank him again. Do it seriously, joyfully, gratefully.