“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:8)
The Son became obedient unto death. His suffering and death was obedience. He had received from the Father the command to lay down his life (John 10:18). Our sins could not be paid for in any other way.
The Good Shepherd lays down his life for His sheep. There is no other way to save them.
Are sheep worth that much? Is it self-evident that the Son of God must die if there is no other way to pay for our sins? What made God give His Son this command?
The Catechism’s answer is: God’s justice, and – what is almost the equivalent – His truth. It refers to Genesis 2:17, where God said: “For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God maintains this threat; not an iota is detracted from it. Justice and truth.
But that threat is spoken to us. Surprising justice, then, that says to the Son: You must go, and lay down your life.
God maintains his threat. Regard that threat as something that stands on its own, and you will no longer understand anything of God’s justice.
But it does not stand on its own. The threat is part of – the sanction part of – the covenant. That covenant is from the beginning. It includes God’s promise, the expression of His will to live in communion with people of His good pleasure. It includes God’s law, the way for man to enjoy life through serving in pure love.
And then it also includes God’s threat.
Justice and truth: God maintains His covenant in its fullness. No one has walked the life-giving way of the law. All have rejected God who was their true life. The threat must put all of them to death.
However, in righteousness God also maintains His purpose with, and path for, man’s life. The Son shall pay with His death for people of God’s favour. The Spirit shall then make them walk in the way of life. The Father will fulfil His purpose with them. And they understand that Christ is called: Sun of righteousness.
(Taken from The Only Comfort, a devotional readings book in the process of being published.)