How God Deals with Sin—The Cross
1 Peter 3:18
What was the reason for the cross? Why was it necessary? I can give it to you in one word: sin. Sin is an affront, a rebellion, a clenched fist in the face of God. How is God going to deal with the sin blanketing our world—the arson, murder, terrorism, carnage, anarchy and hatred? Sin is the curse. But what is the cure? The cross of Jesus Christ.
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” 1 Peter 3:18
Jesus, who never sinned, the virgin-born, spotless Son of God, “the just,” died for the unjust—you and me—becoming our substitute upon the cross.
In the Cross, Jesus Atoned for Sin
Throughout the Bible, from Genesis onward, God was teaching the lesson of substitution. As far back as the Garden of Eden, to cover Adam and Eve’s sin, God put to death an animal and covered them with its skin.
The lesson continued in the symbolism of Passover, a prophetic picture of the cross of Christ. God told His people to take a lamb without spot or blemish, kill that lamb, and place the blood upon the doorpost of their house—not on the inside, but on the outside, openly, publicly, unashamedly.
Think of the person with the blood as he applied it up and down on the two vertical doorposts and across the top. He has drawn on both sides, left and right, the sign of the cross.
Long ago in the Passover feast, God was picturing and prophesying that it is the blood that atones for sin. The blood covers and protects:
“For as much as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from you vain conversation receive by tradition from your fathers But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” 1 Peter 1:18.
If you had put the blood beneath your feet and passed over the blood, God would not have passed over you. But when you put yourself under the blood, then the judgment of Almighty God will pass over you.
God’s sinless lamb is the sacrifice Abraham talked about on Mt. Moriah when he said, “God will provide Himself a lamb.”
Have you ever wondered why such a large part of the four gospels focuses on the last week of Jesus’ life and all He did? Because there in that last week, just as the Passover lambs were being examined by the priests, Jesus, God’s Lamb, is being examined by the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and civil leaders. Yet they find no fault in Him. Even Pilate found no fault in Him. The religious leaders had to bribe false witnesses to come up with a fault.
When the day of Passover arrived on the Jewish calendar, two things occurred simultaneously. Back at the temple at precisely 3:00 p.m., the priests were tilting the head of a spotless little lamb and raising their sharp knives to its throat. At that moment on cruel Golgotha, God’s spotless Lamb poured out His precious, royal blood for the sin of all mankind. From that cross, as He died, Jesus exclaimed, “It is finished!” At last, it is done, paid in full.
The priests and Levites may now put away their knives now and go home…their work was done. For time and eternity, redemption’s work is done. God dealt with sin through the substitutionary death of the Lamb of God upon the cross.
In the Cross, God Provided the Scapegoat
The Cross fulfilled another Old Testament symbol: the scapegoat. Centuries before, when tabernacle worship began, God instituted the scapegoat. A priest would lay his hand upon the head of a goat and confess the sins of the people. In essence, he was transferring their sins to the goat. Then the goat would be led outside the city wall to be killed.
On Passover, Jesus, God’s Passover Lamb, was led outside the city walls to be crucified and die. Our sins were laid upon Him, the “just for the unjust,” our scapegoat, taken to a cruel Roman cross, hung there to die.
The cross is a perfect picture of substitution. Remember when Pilate asked the mob, “Who do you want me to release to you—Jesus or Barabbas?” and they shouted, “Barabbas!”—a thief held in prison.
Picture this scene. A Roman soldier, carrying a torch, walks down a narrow corridor to a door with iron bars. With his key the guard opens the door. Back in the shadows, a man on a straw mat trembles like a bird in a trap. His face is the mirror of evil, yet fear is written all over him. The soldier growls, “Barabbas, get up and come with me.”
Barabbas begins to plead, “No, wait, don’t take me. Please, have mercy!” The soldier says, “Barabbas, quit sniffling. I’ve never seen a man with the good luck you have. You’re not going to die. Somebody else is going to die in your place. Come here, Barabbas. Look over on that hill. Do you see the middle cross? Barabbas, that’s the cross we made for you. But there’s someone else on that cross. He has taken your place.” God arranged a perfect picture of substitution, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.
In the Cross, Jesus Bore Our Sins
No passion play can depict the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ. Tongue cannot tell, throat cannot sing, hand cannot paint, the tragedy of Calvary and the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pure and spotless, Jesus took the cup containing the sin of the world, past, present and future, and drank it to the full, saying,
“My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” Matthew 26:28
And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood. Luke 22:44
Some years ago, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association quoted some physicians who were speaking about these great drops of blood, a rare condition called hematidrosis, that may occur during highly emotional state. They linked it to Jesus’ suffering in Gethsemane. The Lord Jesus was in such agony that the tiny capillaries were rupturing. He was about to be tried, battered with their fists, beaten with clubs, then scourged—an event in itself that many did not survive—before He went to the cross and the indescribable suffering of crucifixion itself.
Why did the Romans used crucifixion? To inspire stark terror. Crucifixion was meant to be so cruel that anyone who saw a crucifixion said, “Whatever caused that, I will not do that. Romans, whatever you tell me, I’ll do it. But don’t crucify me.” That’s what crucifixion was all about. Our word excruciating comes from the Latin excruciatos, “out of the cross.”
Jesus Christ drank the cup, the pollution of sin, and wore the crown, the penalty of sin. The cup and the crown tell us of the cross. Jesus paid that price, separation from Almighty God. Not only would God the Father be separated from Him, but for that moment He would become the object of the Father’s loathing. The Father must look upon Him as He would upon a sinner and deal with Him as He would a sinner.
Now we understand Peter’s text more fully, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins....” Friend, that does not mean “once upon a time.” That means once for all. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant that sin’s debt had been paid for all time.
“This man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.” Hebrews 10:12-13
In the Cross, Jesus Brought Us to God
He hath suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.
If we have to be brought somewhere, it means we’re not already there. Sin separates us from a holy God. The cross brings us to Him.
On that cross, Jesus took holy God with one hand, sinful man with the other hand, and has reconciled God and man, “having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself...” (Colossians 1:20) that He might bring us to God.
“For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son. Much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His light.” Romans 5:10
“Bring,” prosago in Greek, means to take an individual and present him to a king or a dignitary. That’s what Jesus has done. He has taken us by the hand to present us to God the Father saying, “Father, these are Mine. I purchased them with My blood on the cross.”
God created the way for His banished to be not separated from Him, and Jesus, His spotless Son, paid the price in full.
O, the love that thought it.
O, the blood that bought it.
O, the grace that brought it.
Wonderful, wonderful salvation. All of this is for you. For you.If you would like to know more about how to accept God’s free gift of salvation, visit
How do we answer the tough questions? Why do bad things happen to good people and vice versa? Why was Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross necessary for redemption? And why were there three crosses on Calvary that day? Pastor Adrian Rogers tackles these topics in his simple and profound style in the “Why” booklet collection, which includes four booklets. It will become a staple in your own faith-building library and a valuable tool as you share the true Love worth finding, Jesus Christ. Ready to get your questions answered? Start here.