FORGIVEN AND JUSTIFIED
“The words, “it was credited to him” were not written for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in Him who raised our Lord Jesus from the dead.
“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Romans 4:23-25.
How did the Apostle Paul know what the death of Jesus Christ meant? After all, He could have been any poor criminal who died at the hands of Roman cruelty. Why did they have to execute wrongdoers in such a barbaric way? Why put them through such inhumane suffering? Was it really a deterrent to others who chose to commit crimes?
How could Paul write these words with such conviction and confidence, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification?”
If Jesus was to die as a perfect Passover lamb, He had to fulfil the requirements of God for that lamb in order to be an acceptable sacrifice.
Firstly, the Passover lamb had to be chosen from the flock on 10th day of Nisan and scrutinised for three days for any blemish or defect. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on 10th of Nisan, a clear bid to be king of the Jews. He was welcomed by an excited crowd who accepted Him as the one who came in the name of the Lord. For three days He was questioned by the religious leaders who were finally silenced because they could find no fault in Him.
Secondly, the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed on the 14th day of Nisan. Jesus was crucified on 14th Nisan and He died at the exact hour when the first Passover lamb was slaughtered in the temple. He did not die as a victim of the Jews or the Romans. Those who were sent to arrest Him could not lay a finger on Him until He handed Himself over because of the power of His name. He willingly laid down His life. No one took it from Him.
Thirdly, the Passover lamb was sacrificed to protect the people of Israel from the angel of death who took the lives of the firstborn sons of the Egyptians; a lamb for the firstborn. In Adam, they were all firstborn and deserved to die but they were redeemed by the blood of the lamb. Jesus was God’s firstborn Son. He gave His life to redeem us who, in Adam, are the firstborn and deserve death because of our sin.
Fourthly, because Jesus was without sin, His death was acceptable in our place. He was our substitute and God accepted His offering as an atoning sacrifice for our sin.
Fifthly, because He was without sin, death could not hold Him. Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the Feast of Firstfuits by the power of the Holy Spirit as proof that His sacrifice was acceptable to God. He became the firstfuits of the resurrection, guaranteeing that all who believe in Him will also be raised to everlasting life in an incorruptible body like His.
Jesus satisfied the demands of the law, lived in perfect obedience to His Father, died as a lawbreaker in our place, was raised from the dead by the power of God and is alive forever to stand as mediator between us and God. He presents His blood as an atoning sacrifice for our sin. He is the guarantee that we have been justified by His death, declared “not guilty” because our debt has been paid.
Yes, Paul, you are absolutely correct when you said, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Jesus was condemned by both Jew and Roman. He died for the sins of the whole world. All who believe in Him are justified and can say with assurance that they have been made righteous by His blood and have been given the gift of eternal life.
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