The other day while visiting with neighbors, I overheard a friend tell about an upsetting incident that had happened earlier that day. While shopping at a local grocer, she had been falsely accused of shoplifting. Her story gave us a chuckle since we all know her as the quintessential, cookie-baking, next-door neighbor lady. No one could imagine her committing such a crime.
Once the chuckles ended, however, we were outraged for her. Within a few minutes the whole neighborhood was behind her in pledging a boycott of the store in defense of her honor. Our sense of justice would not stand for the innocent being wrongly accused.
The next morning, though, my perspective of the incident changed. As chance would have it, my morning Bible reading took me to Isaiah 53. Here I read one of the prophetic passages about the sufferings of Christ, who was falsely accused but did not fight back:
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:5-7 KJV)
This passage reminded me that Jesus Christ took the blame for crimes he did not commit. When “he was bruised for our iniquities,” he had every right to protest, “But I’m not guilty!” Instead, when he stood before his accusers, he did not say a word in his defense. No one stood up for his honor. All his followers, like sheep, had fled.
Prior to the cross, while praying in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, in anticipation of the terrifying events shortly to come, prayed to his father:
“Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.” (John 12:27 KJV)
Jesus understood what was coming. He knew that at any moment the Roman soldiers would be there, along with one of his own disciples, to bring him before his accusers. He knew he would be charged with blasphemy and be found guilty. He knew, yet he stayed. Why? Because he also knew that the cross was his Father’s will. In faithful obedience, he carried out God’s plan for our redemption, knowing that he would face the wrath of God-the penalty of sins he had not committed.
While on the cross, Jesus did more than take the blame for the sins of the world. The Apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote: “For he [God the Father] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin [that is, Christ knew no sin]; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV)
Christ died for our sins so that God could forgive us. And more, his death on the cross made it possible for God to impute righteousness to all those who trust in the blood of Christ as God’s fully satisfying sacrifice. To be “made the righteousness of God in him” means to be declared perfectly righteous by God-completely justified from all sin and guilt, as it is written:
“And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:39 KJV)
“…not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” (Philippians. 3:9 KJV)
I am eternally grateful to Jesus Christ. Even though he had “more than twelve legions of angels” ready at any moment to rescue him from the cross (Matthew 26:53 KJV), Jesus chose to endure the shame and pain. He was willing and able to suffer for sins he did not commit so that you and I might be forgiven and, as well, receive the imputed righteousness of God.
Rich, so very rich was Christ Through all eternity, As God the Son, with God enthroned, The heir of all was he.
Poor, so very poor, did he As son of man become, From manger birth to shameful death, Rejected by his own.
For us, ah, yes it was for us He bore such poverty, That we through his redeeming grace Might be as rich as he! -C.R. Stam