This is from a post I wrote back in 2016 because I thought it would be good followup to my last post. We’ve been been looking at how we see the atonement and what that view says about God. It was in response to this statement: “the word propitiation refers to the fist of the Father, striking the Son….” While this view is extreme, what does it say about our atonement paradigm?
Perhaps we need a paradigm shift in our thinking about this whole thing. As I said last time, the following view of the atonement is not well understood in Western Christianity, but it is a more ancient one. In my opinion, what we’ve been led to believe is typical Adamic scapegoating; we blamed God for something we’ve done.
Warning: once you see this you can’t unsee it.
From Scripture, we can see restorative justice demonstrated beautifully in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Restorative justice is a higher form of justice than retributive justice because it’s not about punishing the perpetrator; it’s about restoring both the perpetrator and the victim.
In this retelling of God’s redemptive story, we’re the perpetrators and Jesus is the victim…and the victor! It was Christ on the cross, taking all of our insults, abuses…taking on our darkness…our vitriolic poison…all of our sin upon Himself.
And contrary to popular opinion, the Father NEVER abandoned Jesus! He’s not an absentee Dad! At this most critical moment in human history, the Father was working in His Son, reconciling us to Himself.
19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them… (2 Cor. 5:19 NLT*)
So, let’s be clear about the roles here. We were God’s enemies in our minds, abandoning Jesus, pouring out our wrath, not God:
21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled. (Col.1:21 NKJV*)
So, here’s how we can interpret what’s going on at the crucifixion.
We were the perpetrators of a heinous crime against God by unjustly killing the innocent Son of His love. WE were the ones with the angry murderous hearts, saying “Crucify Him!” We were the ones with the enmity (Rom.8:7; Eph.2:14-16), God’s children full of wrath and enemies in our minds (Rom.5:10; Eph.2:3; Col.1:21), separated in our hearts from the Father’s love and life (John 17:3).
And the Father—BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE—was working IN His incarnate Son, allowing us to crush Jesus, fusing all of our iniquities with the Divine Nature, so that we could be healed and brought back into perfect union with Him as Christ is in perfect union with Him.
For further study, you can read my series, “Did God Kill Jesus?”
So, we actually see God restoring the victim—Jesus—in Isaiah 53:10. Unfortunately, we (in the Latin West) have misread this passage for centuries because of the way it was translated. When looking at the oldest account [Septuagint (LXX): the Scriptures used by Jesus and the apostles], it’s actually telling us that it pleased the Father to heal Jesus of His wounds that we inflicted! As Jesus took our disease and healed us, the Father cleansed the Son of His Love.
And the Lord desires to cleanse him from his blow.
If you give an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived offspring. (Isaiah 53:10 LXX, translated into English – NETS*)
You can read more about this understanding of Isaiah 53:10 in my post, “Saving Easter – Part five.”
The word, “reconciled” means to restore, or bring into harmony by exchanging something of equal value. Beloved, not only did God restore you to Himself, He loved you SO MUCH that He gave Jesus (John 3:16), which means you have equal value to Him.
5:10 Our hostility and indifference towards God did not reduce his love for us; he saw equal value in us when he exchanged the life of his son for ours. Now that the act of reconciliation is complete, his life in us saves us from the gutter-most to the uttermost. (Rom.5:10 MIRROR*)
Let that percolate in your brain for a while!
This simpler and earlier idea of the atonement sees Jesus going to the cross to rescue humanity and destroy the works of the devil who held sin and death over us.
The Father, who had enjoyed unbroken fellowship and self-giving love with His Son from eternity would not leave Him as a victim, wounded because of our transgressions, in the grave (Hades) where all souls had gone before Him. For, as the Father was in Christ during the crucifixion, His Spirit was working mightily in Jesus when He raised Him from the grave!
27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’ (Acts 2:27; cf. Psalm 16:10-11)
To summarize, in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ we see God’s restorative justice beautifully on display.
First, God heals, forgives, and restores the perpetrator—us—by fusing our human nature to His divinity (by His hypostatic union). He healed our diseased human condition by fusing it to Himself and burying it in the grave forever (Rom.5:18-19; 6:4-6; 2 Cor.5:14).
Second, we see God restoring the victim—Jesus—by cleansing Him of our blow.
Third, we see God vindicating Jesus by raising Him up on the third day and making Him Lord over all! (Phil.2:8-11)
Precious sought out one, can you see this? Open your heart and mind to this glorious reality. This is what Easter means. The good news that brings great joy. By His stripes you were healed (Matt.8:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:24). You died and rose again with Christ, and now your life is hidden in Christ in God…forever!
O Happy Day! What a glorious Day!