I’ve been reading Stephen Charnock (1628-1680 & assistant minister to Thomas Watson at Bishopsgate Street) on the knowledge of Christ Crucified. Charnock asks, why didn’t God simply restore man after the fall:
Suppose God might have pardoned sin, and recovered man by his own absolute prerogative, had not his word been passed, that in case of man’s transgression he should die the death : As a word created the earth, and cast it into such a beautiful frame and order, so by one word he might have restored man, and set him upon his former stock, and have for ever kept him from falling again, as he did the standing angels from ever sinning: Yet God pitcheth upon this way, and is pleased with no other contrivance but this; but in a way of sovereignty he calls out his Son to be a sacrifice; and the Son putting himself into the state of a Surety and Redeemer, is said to have a command given him on the part of God as a sovereign. “As the father gave me commanandmnent even so I do.” (John xiv. 31)
Two things worth noting here about Christ crucified:
1. Christ went willingly to the cross as an act of obedience to the command of his loving Father.
2. Christ’s love is shown sacrifice (death on the cross) because of the word of God. Charnock links the cross to the sentence pronounced by God in Genesis 2:17, in which God states that “in case of man’s transgression he should die the death.” The penalty for sin is judicial death and Christ’s love makes him willing to put “himself into the state of a Surety and Redeemer.” This is the essence of Christ’s substitution for sinners. We deserve judicial or second death, by Christ takes it in our stead. The sentence for transgression is paid like for like on the cross.