Mark 14:35-36. And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Mark 15:33-39. And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
Jesus never made it back to Bethany Thursday night. He didn’t intend to. He was up all night in the Garden of Gethsemane. By Friday morning he had been arrested and was on trial for his life. A trial he would choose to suffer and lose for you and me.
Jesus would be judged six times by an unrighteous human judge. Through it all, he was proven innocent, and killed anyway. But the trials before the Sanhedrin, Pilate, and Herod were not Jesus’ only trials on Good Friday. Much greater was his seventh trial. The judgment of God. The all-knowing, heart discerning, God could not find a flaw in Jesus. And yet he was rejected by God and killed anyway.
But how? How is any of that fair? How is that justice?
Because Jesus chose it.
He chose to go. He chose to leave heaven. He chose to veil his glory. He chose to incarnate. He chose to become our representative. Our federal head. Our substitute. Our sacrifice. He chose to die.
He chose to move from submitting to God as his Abba who comforted him in the Garden, to submitting to God as his judge who poured out his wrath upon him in the form of the divine rejection of sin (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?). In order to do this Christ had to become our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and our curse (Galatians 3:13). Now we can move from submitting to God as our divine judge to submitting to him as our loving caring Abba.
This is why there can be salvation and still justice. God didn’t overlook sin. He righteously and justly punished sin on the cross. Your sin and my sin. The sin of Adam, and the sin of all humanity. This had to happen for there to be salvation. There is no salvation without justice. What is wrong must be made right. Offenses must be dealt with. Especially offenses against the holy God.
God is holy. And his holiness will naturally destroy anything that opposes it. God will do whatever it takes to destroy anything that would destroy what he loves. That means anything that would destroy us must be destroyed. That includes all sin, injustice, oppression, violence, and hate. We are all victims.
But it also includes us. Because evil is wrapped up in all of us. We are all destroyers. We are all oppressors.
Therefore, for there to be justice and still salvation there has to be substitution. If God had poured out his just and loving wrath against sinful humanity without Christ as our substitute, none of us would survive. There would be no hope of salvation. But because Jesus cried out My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Because he suffered divine rejection in our place, we can experience divine reconciliation in him.
To be IN CHRIST is to have this justice run through us. As both victim and oppressor Jesus died for sin. As both victim and oppressor we are free from sin’s effect. Now, as both victim and oppressor we can, by faith in Christ, experience restoration and justice. Justice that restores our righteousness. Justice that is our salvation.
God because you forsook Jesus on the cross you will never forsake me. Jesus thank you for willingly taking my place, my sin, my punishment. Thank you for protecting me from God’s justice while also giving me God’s righteousness. Amen.