In the Old Testament God provided animal sacrifices as a temporary means of atonement for sin. The animals served as a substitute for the people, taking on the penalty for sin (death) in place of the people. The sacrificial system was never intended to last; it was a foreshadowing of Jesus' death on the cross. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice and He provided atonement for our sins once and for all (Hebrews 10:1–18; 1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus did this when He died on the cross for us and was raised again three days later. He took on the weight of our sins as His own: "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit" (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus took our place in that He bore the punishment we deserved so that we could be saved.
What does it mean that Jesus took our place?
We were stuck in our own sins, fated to pay a penalty we could not pay; we were doomed to death (Romans 3:23). God had a solution: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). God sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the propitiation for our sins, the atoning sacrifice that appeases God's wrath and brings reconciliation: "[Jesus Christ] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). Jesus died so that we may have eternal life in Him (John 3:16; Hebrews 9:12–15).
Jesus was eligible to take our place because He lived a sinless life. While we fail to live up to God's perfect standards on a daily basis, Jesus, who was fully human and fully God, lived His entire life without sinning (Hebrews 4:15). Though Jesus was God's perfect Son who had committed no sin, He was executed as a sinner (Luke 23). Jesus was made sin on our behalf, so that He could take our guilt and give us His righteousness instead: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Those who accept Jesus' offer of salvation by putting their faith in Him are no longer condemned to die (John 3:16–18, 26). Jesus died so that we wouldn't have to—He took our place, bearing the weight of our sins and the sins of the whole world on Himself (John 1:29). If we have believed in Jesus, we are dead to sin and alive to Christ (Romans 6:11). His triumph over death has brought us victory: "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him" (Colossians 2:13–15).
Because Jesus took our place, in Him we are no longer condemned but forgiven (Romans 8:1). We need only to put our faith in Christ and His sacrifice for us in order to have everlasting life and be in right standing with God: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). Jesus willingly took your place; all you must do is trust in Him and you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Praise be to God for His free gift of salvation and life everlasting in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Is Jesus Christ God?
What is the significance of the humanity of Jesus?
Was Jesus sinless?
How is Jesus the Lamb of God?
What is faith in Jesus? What does it mean to have faith in Jesus?
Truth about Jesus Christ