December 3 — Jesus Came to Atone Us
“Atonement” Means “Being Made One with God”
We are using the acrostic ‘G-R-A-C-E’ to help us understand the Gospel message. It begins with God who created man and pursued a vital love relationship with man.
Man, in spite of God’s provision to meet all of his needs, rebelled (‘R’) against God. Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation of trying to meet their needs of meaning, purpose, and significance in their own strength. They were left with guilt, shame, and God’s judgment. Those of us in the present day have no right to feel superior to Adam and Eve; they may have introduced sin into the world, but we follow in their footsteps as soon as we are capable of independent thought. We find ourselves in the same condition as them, dealing with guilt and shame, trying our best to achieve peace in our own strength but being consistently defeated by our selfishness. In other words, we are messed up.
God, being unwilling to sentence us to a living death, took the next step to provide life for us. “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 New Living Translation). He sent Jesus to be our ‘A’tonement. “Atonement” is not a word we throw around in casual conversation. Exactly what does it mean that Jesus ‘atoned’ for our sins? A simple explanation is the description that preachers have used for years: saying that Jesus atoned for our sins is to say that He came so that we could be “at-one” with God. Through Jesus, we can have the real and unhindered relationship with God we were created for. He repaired the break that sin had caused between man and God. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection all worked to enable us to have peace with God.
Read 1 Peter 2:21-25
Jesus’ death has several effective purposes for us. Verse 21 tells us that Christ suffered for us so that we can follow in His steps. We are to live like Him because, when the exchange takes place, we are made like Him.
Verse 24 says that He bore our sins so that we could die to sin. We do not have to live in bondage to bad things we did in the past. We do not have to live in bondage to errors, misconceptions, bad teaching, and bad examples that led us to do bad things. Jesus took them in His body on the cross so that we didn’t have to live in slavery to them.
The second part of verse 24 echoes Isaiah 53:5 and says that “by His stripes we are healed.” As John Piper has put so succinctly and so eloquently, “The cross does not merely create new possibilities; it creates new persons.”
Verse 25 tells us that the cross enables us to stop our wandering and return to the Great Shepherd. When we exchange unrighteousness for righteousness, we can come home because God sees us as being righteous.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (NIV). How does Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross make a person a “new creation?”