Christ was to make satisfaction by suffering all that we were to suffer. We are cursed, therefore Christ was made a curse (Gal. 3:13). We were to endure the wrath of God, therefore he bore our griefs (Isa. 53:4). We are to blame, and deserve shame, therefore he would undergo that, and suffer in his credit and honour. Our reproach is taken away, because Christ would take it upon himself: he was ‘the reproach of men’ (Ps. 22:6). We were sinners, and therefore Christ is called a murderer, a thief, a blasphemer, one that had a devil. This was a circumstance that commended the greatness of the satisfaction. What greater satisfaction could we expect or desire than that Christ, who is holiness itself, should not only suffer, but suffer under ignominies—that innocency itself should suffer as a malefactor? This made the sufferings of Christ exceeding great and valuable. Christ would lay aside all his glory, pleasure, and honour, and sacrifice everything for the good of the creature. You have the life of God, and the honour of God, and all. There is nothing that God prizeth so much as his honour, and Christ would suffer that God’s honour might not be obscured by these imputations, but repaired.
The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 3:478.
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 great doctrine, the greatest of all, is this, that God, seeing men to be lost by reason of their sin, hath taken that sin of theirs and laid it upon his only begotten Son, making him to be sin for us, even him who knew no sin; and that in consequence of this transference of sin he that believeth in Christ Jesus is made just and righteous, ya, is made to be the righteousness of God in Christ. Christ was made sin that sinners might be made righteousness. That is the doctrine of the substitution of our Lord Jesus Christ on the behalf of guilty men.
—Charles H. Spurgeon
The Metropolitan Tabernacle, “The Heart of the Gospel,” Sermon 1910, 2 Cor 5:20–21.
To suffer death was the immediate end of the interposition of Christ. The principal end of his undertaking was to right the honour of God, and glorify his attributes in the recovery of the creature; but the immediate end was to suffer, because this was the only way to bring about that end which was principally aimed at in Christ’s interposition, and God’s determination concerning him. Death being denounced as the punishment of sin, Christ interposeth himself for our security, with a promise to bear that punishment in our stead for the procuring our exemption from it; therefore, what punishment was of right to be inflicted on man for the breach of the law, was, by a gracious act of God, the governor of the world and guardian of his laws, transferred upon Christ, as putting himself in our stead. His first interposition was for the same end with his death, but his death was evidently for our sins. It was for them ‘he gave himself,’ Gal. 1:4; they were our sins which ‘he bare in his own body on the tree,’ 1 Peter 2:24; ‘for our iniquities he was wounded, and for our transgressions he was bruised,’ Isa. 53:5; our health was procured by his stripes, and therefore intended by him in his first engagement. He offered his person in our stead, which was able to bear our sin, and afford us a righteousness which was able to justify our persons; he offered himself to endure the curse of the law in his own body, and fulfil the righteousness of the law in his own person; he would be united with us in our nature, that he might make the sins of our nature his own in suffering for them, and give to us what was his, by taking to himself what was ours; he took our stripes that we might receive his medicine. This, therefore, being the end of his first undertaking, was necessary to be performed; for Christ is not yea and nay, 2 Cor. 1:19, one time of one mind, and another time of another, but firm and uniform in all his proceedings, without any contradiction between his promise and performance.
The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock, 5:10.
“If a prince, passing by an execution, should take the malefactor’s chains, and suffer in his stead, this would be a wonderful instance indeed.”
The deed would ring through all history, and be quoted as an amazing instance of heroic pity; and well deserved would be all the words of praise and sonnets of admiration which would record and eulogize it. Yet our Lord Jesus did this and infinitely more for those who were not merely malefactors, but enemies to his own throne and person. This is a wonder of wonders! But, alas, it meets with small praise. The most of men around us have heard of it and treated it as an idle tale, and multitudes more regard it as a pious legend, worthy to be repeated as a venerable fable, and then forgotten as an unpractical myth. Even those who know, believe, and admire, are yet cold in their emotions with regard to the story of the cross. Herein is love which ought to set our hearts on fire, and yet we scarcely maintain a smouldering spark of enthusiasm. Lord Jesus, be more real to our apprehensions, and so be more completely the Master of our affections.
—Charles H. Spurgeon
Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden (Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).