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Jesus' Roles in Redemption

The Just for the Unjust

The common thread in all Bible pictures that refer to Jesus is the idea of an innocent living thing giving its life for another. When we read the Gospels, that is what we discover; and when we turn to the many pictures of redemption in Scripture, the idea of a substitute or ransom or stand-in is the consistent message of scripture.

The 2nd Adam

Adam, like Jesus, was a perfect man who was capable of being fully obedient. Adam, unlike Jesus, lacked experiential knowledge with God, and was morally immature. God knew Adam would fail his first test, and become unjust. God planned to therefore place all mankind under "wrath" -- the hereditary curse of sin and death. As is often stated, we aren't sinners because we sin -- we sin because we are sinners: born that way. We are all, until we become transferred to a new Source of life by faith in Christ, "children of wrath." (Ephesians 2:3) When we accept Christ, we are "saved from wrath" -- the hereditary condemnation of Adam and all his children. (Romans 5:9)

What Jesus did according the the careful logic of Romans 5 was to pay the penalty of that one damaging sin by a righteous act of his own. In so doing, he becomes the 2nd Adam as 1 Corinthians 15:45 describes it. The human race gets a new father, one who has the power to give a complete offset to all that the first Adam gave. That means Christ does much more than open the door to repentance. He guarantees, by the same law of heredity, a "free gift" of "justification to life" for all mankind. (Romans 5:18)

This is the "ransom for all" which Paul talks about in 1 Timothy 2:10. Note that it is "to all", just as death is to "all". All die in Adam, and all receive, not eternal life, but "justification to life".

In other words, all the negative things that we got from Adam will be completely offset by what we get from Christ. God will not allow any of the results of Adam's fall to keep us from a full and fair opportunity to make an individual choice for eternal life -- not the bad circumstances, not the bad gene pool and bad parenting we experience, nor the temptations of an evil world system and evil spiritual powers. This is the great and simple truth that harmonizes what is true in the harsh logic of Calvinism with the flowery hopes of Christian Universalists. God has guaranteed to all human beings a "feast of fat things." He has guaranteed a full reversal of all the misfortunes of the human race. He has promised that all mankind will come to an accurate knowledge of the truth. A world where the devil is completely neutralized and the mists of confusion and bad habit are completely blown away.

Because Jesus is the 2nd Adam, all human beings are guaranteed a full release from Adamic hereditary condemnation, and "whosovever will" can re-enter Paradise, eating freely of all the trees of life, and being healed of their past sins. (Revelation 22:1-5, 14-17)

The passover lamb

God gave the world a great picture of his plan of redemption when he delivered Israel from Egypt. In the big picture of that event, Moses pictures Jesus, Pharaoh pictures Satan, Israel pictures all the people who will eventually be saved, and the Red Sea pictures eternal death (2nd death as described in Revelation 20). Satan pursues the world, but they escape through the parting of the waters -- which Paul equates to baptism -- and cross over to redemption. When the whole nation (world of redeemed people) have reached their destination, the waters close in on Satan and his army -- just as it describes in the final battle of Revelation 20. The host of evil is overwhelmed and swallowed up forever, and then all sorrow and sighing are gone forever. (Revelation 21:1-4) These are clearly broad promises, given to the entire world of mankind.

But the picture does not begin at the Red Sea -- that's just the final phase of the redemption process. You might say that's what happens after Christ returns.

The deliverance picture begins in a very personal, household by household way, with the family selecting a lamb, bringing it into the house for most of a week, and then slaughtering it at the doorstep, placing its blood on the wooden doorposts and lintels of the house, and then roasting its flesh and eating it at night, with their traveling clothes on. Here Jesus pictures the lamb, which is slain for the benefit of the family. He nourishes them for the journey, and his blood protects them from the destroying angel who goes through Egypt that night.

And something else is interesting in this picture: the firstborn are the only ones in the house who are actually in danger of death. They are the ones who must be "under the blood" if they are to survive the night.

And so it has been since Christ came. The only one in each house who is truly on trial for life is the committed Christian. All the others, who may appreciate Jesus but haven't given their full heart to him, are part of the family but are not really subject to the possibility of spiritual death.

The Apostle Paul tells us that Christ is the passover lamb, and he calls the church of Christ -- the actual committed followers of Jesus in this age -- the "church of the firstborn". All true Christians, no matter what "denomination" they are in, are part of this church, "whose names are written in heaven." These are the first who are "born again" -- they are the ones who, after they die, are part of the "first resurrection" -- the first people who rise from the dead. But the fact they are called first proves that others come after them.

In ancient Israel, after these firstborn people had reached the vicinity of the Promised Land, they were exchanged for the members of one tribe -- the Levites. The Levites picture the same thing: the church in a broad sense. What did these Levites do (which included the Priests)? They served the rest of the nation (world) in spiritual matters.

Bottom line, remember that Jesus pictures the passover lamb, who was killed and eaten by all, but only the "firstborn" were actually subject to death during the night. But as a result of the deliverance from death that night, the entire nation is free to leave and go to the promised land. The final deliverance through the Red Sea pictures the deliverance of the entire world of mankind at the end of Christ's millennial kingdom.

The daily sacrifice

Every day throughout ancient Israel, a lamb was killed at sunrise, and again at sunset. These daily sacrifices were given as an eternal reminder to the nation that they were not by themselves acceptable to God, and that blood atonement was necessary to make them acceptable. Jesus pictures this "lamb of God", the innocent sacrifice which is necessary for a relationship with God. In the prophet Daniel's book, this sacrifice is called the "continual" sacrifice, and though it was repeated daily in the "type" or picture, the writer of Hebrews makes it clear that its fulfillment was a once-only, not-to-be repeated sacrifice. Jesus on Calvary.

The abomination which makes desolate, which Jesus referred to as a future event, would be some religious sacrifice which would have the audacity to claim that it was necessary to be repeated in order for a person to be saved. As Jesus put it, "he that reads, let him understand."

The bullock and goat, a "sin offering"

Jesus is also pictured in another picture of redemption, the day of atonement offerings.

Moses recorded the picture in Leviticus 16. On the Day of Atonement, two animals are slain -- a bullock or nearly full-grown bull and a yearling goat. There are several peculiarities in the way they are treated that arrests our attention. more to come...


The Brazen serpent
The Ransom for All
The Suffering Servant
The Good Shepherd
The Mediator between God and Man
The High Priest
The Kingly Priest
The Bridegroom