The major premise of Christian doctrine is that sin is removed, satisfied, accounted for, by the blood of Christ.
Now surely we are not expected to believe that somehow it is literally the blood that satisfies sin? It must have some rational meaning beyond an otherwise mystical and superstitious religion,
The blood signifies death. The life is in the blood, therefore once the blood leaves the body, it no longer has life. Since the object of the cross was to provide a death to take the place of OUR death, the condition is satisfied. But what happens to the sin?
The next problem is how does the swapping of the victim account for the damage done by sin? Or for that matter, how does death itself, compensate for sin.
And, if we see death as punishment for sin, we are left with another man being unjustly treated in him having to take the death for another. What does this do for the man who accrued the sin debt anyway?
The only reason for any of it is so the person who has accrued the sin, can be relieved of it and brought to a place where he can then go forward with such a change of heart that he no longer continues in the old sinful way.
The only thing that will do that, is for the sinner to recognise and to value, that the person who stepped forward to “take” his punishment, did so willingly and voluntarily, and for reasons which were none other than to benefit the sinner, and that the cost to the substitute person doing so, was immense.
The portrayal of Jesus on the cross, comes to the sensitive conscience as an instant recognition of the betrayal of innocence, and that innocence then having to bear the cost of the guilty. There is immediate empathy with the plight of the one who willingly and lovingly takes the result of the misdoings of another.
It is the recognition of the destruction of love, being rescued by love itself, by the man of love, representing his Father of love. It is the recognition of the cost of sin, of the pain, suffering and damage it causes, and not least of all to the one seeing his own sin being absorbed by the body of this perfect man.
Sin causes death, it is not punishment owed, it is simple cause and effect. Sin causes damage to man and to God, and the attendant pain and suffering of it is displayed for all the world to see, on the cross of Christ.
The message of the cross, is not that we are saved by his blood, but that we are saved by his love. Inasmuch as his blood represents the “suffering of death”, then blood does represent that facet, aspect, of it. But it does not account for the “sacrifice” of pain, suffering, and extinguishing of life that is taken on by an “innocent” “bystander”.
The cross shows not only the death incurred, but also the reason for this death, being the separation from God, in this case his Father. It shows how we, by operating out of separation from God who is life, have brought forth death, by being the cause of sin’s operation in us. We “put to death” within us, the innocent one. We allowed the operation, within us, of the murderous one.
The cross saves by bringing us to our senses, by touching our hearts with the knowledge of his painful sacrifice for us, that was caused and enabled by our sin, but also caused, enabled and remedied by his love, thus enabling us to have a change of heart and direction, knowing how his love is always for us, and working to remove our sin, even as he has removed it in his own being, in the son of his love.
It is faith belief and trust in his love for us that enables us to draw near to him, even as he draws near to us. It is his death that presents to us OUR death, and the offering of his life in order to rescue us from this sad condition, that presents us with the instant impetus to respond. We see the whole matter of life and death before us, graphically presented in such a way as to ask the question, what are you going to do?
[Romans 3-25 …whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith… Heb 9-14 …how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?. Rev 1-5 …To him who loves us, and released us from our sins by his blood. Eph 1-7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. Eph 2-13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Heb 10-19 Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which he inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, …1 Peter 1-19 …but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.]
[see “incarnation instead of atonement” https://cac.org/incarnation-instead-of-atonement-2016-02-12/ ]
[This was originally posted in 2015. Much Later 2017 EDIT. The “mechanics” of it are that Jesus dealt with sin and death in his body by confronting the inner corruption with his un-corruption (“I perceive that virtue has gone out of me”) and healing the problem. He was worthy then of resurrection and became a “life giving Spirit” by which we are ‘contaminated’ and by which the ‘word becomes flesh’ also in us as it was in him. ‘all by faith’, by believing.]
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