“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …” (1 Tim. 1:15). If the message of Easter could be summed up in one sentence, this is it. Easter is about God saving sinners through the sacrifice of His precious, sinless Son.
But what does it mean to be saved? We use the word, but sometimes lose sight of its meaning. To be saved is to be delivered from the wrath of God (Eph 5:6; Col 3:6; Rev 14:19). In: John 3:18 Jesus said, “Whoever believes in him (referring to Himself) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already.” Notice the words, “Condemned already.”
God gave the judgment that “The wages of sin is death.” This judgment is past tense. This means that the sentence for sin has already been reached. The wrath of God which is coming against the world is not the verdict against our sin – that has already been given – but the sentence which follows the verdict.
When a man on death row is waiting for his day to come, his attorney seeks to have his sentence commuted. Biblical salvation is like that. But from our perspective, our sentence isn’t simply commuted, it is altogether erased. Through Jesus Christ we are given the ultimate pardon.
Because we are pardoned when we leave the prison house, our past does not follow us. When God pardons us through Christ, our record is completely erased. There are no labels that follow a pardoned sinner like those that follow an ex-convict. We are truly given a new life.
But of course, this pardon isn’t free. It comes at a great cost to God Himself. He sent His only Son into the world so that He would receive God’s wrath in our place. The reason we receive such a wonderful pardon is because the sentence of death was, in fact, carried out against our sin. When Jesus hung on the cross, all our sins were placed on Him; and as a result He experienced the wrath of God in our place.
Therefore, God hasn’t simply overlooked our sin. The verdict of death was not commuted. The sentence was carried out to the letter. Jesus paid it all. His blood was shed so that ours would not have to be. By His blood, we are saved (Rev 1:5).
The Bible says, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9).
Easter is about Jesus coming into the world to save us sinners. There is much joy when a condemned man has his sentence commuted. Even as he is led to another prison he has a smile on his face. How much more should we rejoice and thank God for His indescribable gift that has set us free?
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).