The justice of God is exceedingly glorified in this work [of the cross]. God is so strictly and immutably just, that he would not spare his beloved Son when he took upon him the guilt of men’s sins, and was substituted in the room of sinners. He would not abate him the least mite of that debt which justice demanded. Justice should take place, though it cost his infinitely dear Son his precious blood; and his enduring such extraordinary reproach, and pain, and death in its most dreadful form.
The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 2 (Banner of Truth Trust, 1974), 144–145.
The apostle gloried and rejoiced in the cross of Christ. His heart was set on it. It crucified the world to him, making it a dead and undesirable thing (Gal 6:14). The baits and pleasures of sin are all things in the world, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” By these sin entices and entangles our souls. If the heart is filled with the cross of Christ, it casts death and undesirability on them all, leaving no seeming beauty, pleasure, or comeliness in them. Again, Paul says, “It crucifies me to the world and makes my heart, my affections, and my desires dead to all these things. It roots up corrupt lusts and affections, and leaves no desire to go and make provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.”
Indwelling Sin in Believers: Abridged and Made Easy to Read, 99–100 ; original: vol. 6, 250–251.
If thou wouldest be rid of a hard heart, that great enemy to the growth of the grace of fear, be much with Christ upon the cross in thy meditations; for that is an excellent remedy against hardness of heart: a right sight of him, as he hanged there for thy sins, will dissolve thy heart into tears, and make it soft and tender. “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced,—and mourn” (Zech 12:10). Now a soft, a tender, and a broken heart, is a fit place for the grace of fear to thrive in.
The Fear of God, 1:486.
This word carries not only the everyday meaning of bearing pain, but also the older and wider sense of being the object affected by someone else’s action. The Latin is passus, whence the noun “passion.” Both God and men were agents of Jesus’ passion: “this Jesus, delivered up according to the plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23, from Peter’s first sermon). God’s purpose at the cross was as real as was the guilt of the crucifiers.
What was God’s purpose? Judgment on sin, for the sake of mercy to sinners. The miscarrying of human justice was the doing of divine justice. Jesus knew on the cross all the pain, physical and mental, that man could inflict and also the divine wrath and rejection that my sins deserve; for he was there in my place, making atonement for me. “AII we like sheep have gone astray … and the lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
—J. I. Packer
Growing in Christ, 52.
The only way for God’s holy love to be satisfied is for his holiness to be directed in judgement upon his appointed substitute, in order that his love may be directed towards us in forgiveness. The substitute bears the penalty, that we sinners may receive pardon. Who, then, is the substitute? Certainly not Christ, if he is seen as a third party. Any notion of penal substitution in which three independent actors play a role – the guilty party, the punitive judge and the innocent victim – is to be repudiated with the utmost vehemence. It would not only be unjust in itself but would also reflect a defective Christology. For Christ is not an independent third person, but the eternal Son of the Father, who is one with the Father in his essential being.
What we see, then, in the drama of the cross is not three actors but two, ourselves on the one hand and God on the other. Not God as he is in himself (the Father), but God nevertheless, God-made-man-in-Christ (the Son). Hence the importance of those New Testament passages which speak of the death of Christ as the death of God’s Son: for example, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son”, “he … did not spare his own Son”, and “we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son.” For in giving his Son he was giving himself. This being so, it is the Judge himself who in holy love assumed the role of the innocent victim, for in and through the person of his Son he himself bore the penalty which he himself inflicted. As Dale put it, “the mysterious unity of the Father and the Son rendered it possible for God at once to endure and inflict penal suffering.” There is neither harsh injustice, not unprincipled love nor Christological heresy in that; there is only unfathomable mercy. For in order to save us in such a way as to satisfy himself, God through Christ substituted himself for us. Divine love triumphed over divine wrath by divine self-sacrifice. The cross was an act simultaneously of punishment and amnesty, severity and grace, justice and mercy.
The Cross of Christ, 158-159