The Death of Jesus on the Cross – Jim Fowler
The death of Jesus on the cross of Calvary for the sins of mankind is so easily and quickly warped by the human mind into concepts of legal pardon based on the penal substitution of punishment inflicted on Jesus, or it is turned into an economic transaction of pay-off wherein Jesus paid the ransom-debt to an unidentified extortive debt-holder. The conceptual theories of atonement that men have applied to the death of Jesus through the centuries need to be rethought and reframed. Christian thinkers have identified some of these logical conjectures for almost two millennia: If Jesus paid a ransom price or debt payment in His death, who did He pay the ransom and debt payment to? To God? How can Jesus, the Son of God, be paying a penalty to an apparently punitive God, His Father? That divides the oneness of the Trinity. How could He be paying the ransom price or debt payment to the devil, for there is nothing owed to that adversarial supplanter of God. The cost of the cross needs a different explanation.
Could we explain that Jesus paid a great price, the cost of His own death, and in so doing absorbed the consequence of sin by submitting to the death that the devil has power over (Heb. 2:14), thus showing that the “sting of death” (I Cor. 15:56) is a pointless metaphor? This would be the substitutional absorption of the consequences of sin in the death of Jesus. The ransom price and the debt payment are dissolved by the absorption of all sin consequences of death in the death of Jesus. God’s forgiveness and pardon are without the penal enactment of punishment or an extortive debt payment. In His death, Jesus rescued, redeemed and freed mankind from the clutches of Satan’s power of death, the consequence of his character of sin. Jesus died in order to extend to mankind, to all individuals who might receive Him by faith, the divine life that is in Him alone (John. 14:6).
Such absorption of sin and death allows for a reversal and exchange of the spiritual condition of mankind (cf. Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13). It pulls together the redemption and restoration of mankind, bringing together salvation and sanctification. In this explanation, all the symbols, models, and theories of the atonement are decoded and put aside in a simpler explanation of Christ’s dying on the cross for mankind’s sin.
Jim Fowler is a cherished and respected friend of Plain Truth Ministries, a wonderful brother in Christ, having served in a variety of capacities, on our Board of Directors, as a theological consultant and as an author and editor. He continues to write, with his latest being “Manifesting the Life of Jesus” available on Amazon. Jim is a treasure to the body of Christ, a Christ follower who faithfully reflects God’s grace in Jesus, as our risen Lord lives his life within him.