The Justice and Mercy of the Cross

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Because the Savior’s payment fully satisfied divine justice, sinful man could now be declared righteous. Justice punished sin, and mercy rescued sinners.

Romans 3:23-27

The cross of Jesus Christ presents us with a dilemma. If the heavenly Father is good and loving, why would He let His Son endure the agony of crucifixion? From our human perspective, there’s nothing loving in this scene. But by looking beyond the obvious, we’ll see an awesome demonstration of love.

To grasp what took place at the cross, we first need to understand that the Lord is absolutely righteous and just. He always does what’s right and never acts contrary to His nature or His Word. On the other hand, mankind is sinful and deserving of eternal punishment. God couldn’t simply decide to forgive us, because He would then cease to be just—justice requires that a penalty be paid for sin. Either the Lord had to condemn us all to suffer His wrath, or He needed to devise a plan that would satisfy His justice yet allow Him to show mercy.

Before the foundation of the world, God already had a plan in place for His sinless Son to come to earth in human flesh to bear our sins (Rev. 13:8). The Father placed upon Him all our guilt and punishment. Because the Savior’s payment fully satisfied divine justice, sinful man could now be declared righteous. Justice punished sin, and mercy rescued sinners.

No matter who you are or what you’ve done, if you accept Christ’s payment on your behalf, you will be saved. God’s goodness and love are proved by the very act that looked cruel and hateful. This was the sole plan that could save us, and God’s perfect Son was the only one qualified to give His life in our place. What’s more, Jesus did it willingly.

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