In order to provide full redemption, our Redeemer had to provide full satisfaction by enduring the full consequences required by God, all without being consumed by it. Since the terms of the covenant made with Adam (Hos 6:7 But like Adam they transgressed the covenant) mandated death for disobedience, anything short of that on the part of Christ would have resulted in less than complete satisfaction; if the Father had accepted less than full satisfaction, He would have violated His character.
“For it is the design of the Holy Spirit, that we should, in the death of Christ, see, and taste, and ponder, and feel, and recognize nothing but God’s unmixed goodness, and the love of Christ toward us, which was great and inestimable, that, regardless of himself, he devoted himself and his life for our sakes. In every instance in which the Scriptures speak of the death of Christ, they assign to us its advantage and price; — that by means of it we are redeemed — reconciled to God — restored to righteousness — cleansed from our pollutions — life is procured for us, and the gate of life opened.” Calvin, Commentary on Philippians 2:9
“He bore the figure or form of a slave, of a being which is wholly dependent on the will of another, which has to bow to and obey this other…it is also the opposite of the morphe theouwhich He had before, and of the position of kurios which He will receive at His exaltation.
…stands in the sharpest conceivable contrast to His former appearance, the image of sovereign divine majesty.
…he brings out in clear-cut contrast the absolute distinction between the modes of being. Christ came down from the height of power and splendour to the abyss of weakness and lowliness proper to a slave, and herein is revealed for the apostle the inner nature of the Redeemer who is both above history and yet also in history.” Kittel & Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
What about His rights?
the Lord of life subject to death
the Master dependent on the will of another
the Holy One made sin for us
the bright morning star buried with the wicked
the Beloved Son made a curse
the One full of grace and truth judged a criminal impostor
Challenges to truth of literal death/burial:
“His disciples came and stole the body” – the Roman soldiers
He only appeared to have a body – Docetist view of early Gnostics
He only appeared to die (swoon theory) – 18th century & following rationalists
He only appeared to die (substitute victim) – Islam
#1 fails for failure to produce a body.
#2 fails for following evidence presented by Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances – touch me – and John’s witness “our hands have handled”
#3 fails on the basis of medical testimony given in Scripture, His treatment was not survivable
#4 based on a mis-interpretation of Scripture (#1)
God’s method of our complete salvation is not dependent on historical era. Old Testament saints were saved in the same way as New Testament saints; their ticket out of the world and into eternal life was death just as ours will be. If Jesus’ death negated the necessity of ours, then thousands of OT saints died needlessly. Death for complete salvation is not mandatory (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17) but it is the entrance into eternal life God has ordained.
Question 43 – 44
The weight of the Apostles’ Creed to this point has been on the human aspect of Jesus’ suffering and death:
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
the next statement addresses the spiritual component – His suffering that was not outward visible, only through the sweating drops of blood, the cry of “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” from the cross. The previous phrases address His treatment at the hands of men, the descent into hell His treatment at the hands of God. The authors and editors of the Creed didn’t want there to be any doubt about Christ’s full satisfaction; nothing is left as a debit on our account with God, we will experience nothing of the torments of hell since Christ already did so on our behalf. Thus there is nothing to fear in death itself or what follows it for the believer.
Further, Christ’s victory over sin has broken its hold over us; we are no longer bound in sin and even though there truly is a conflict within us, we choose to sin. (see Romans 7) Nor can Satan use our sin as a weapon against us since any claim sin might have on us before the law has been satisfied in Christ. That doesn’t give us license to abuse grace but it gives us hope that we can have increasing mastery over sin in this life – mortification of sin and increasing sanctification.