by J.C. Ryle
But we must not be content with a vague general belief that Christ’s sufferings were vicarious. We are intended to see the truth in every part of his passion. We may follow him all through, from the bar of Pilate to the minute of his death, and see him at every step as our substitute, our head, out surety, our proxy – the divine friend who undertook to stand in our place and, by the priceless merit of his sufferings, to purchase our redemption.
Was he flogged? It was done so that “by his wounds we are healed” (Is. 53:5).
Was he condemned, though innocent? It was done so that we might be acquitted, though guilty.
Did he wear a crown of thorns? It was done so that we might wear the crown of glory.
Was he stripped of his clothes? It was done so that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness.
Was he mocked and reviled? It was done so that we might be honored and blessed.
Was he reckoned a criminal, and counted among those who have done wrong? It was done so that we might be reckoned innocent, and declared free from all sin.
Was he declared unable to save himself? It was so that he might be a able to save others to the uttermost.
Did he die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful death? It was done so that we might live forevermore, and be exalted to the highest glory.
Let us ponder these things well: they are worth remembering. The very key to peace is a right apprehension of the vicarious sufferings of Christ.
And let us learn from the story of the passion always to hate sin with a great hatred. Sin was the cause of all our Savior’s sufferings. Our sins twisted the crown of thorns; our sins drove the nails into his hands and feet; on account of our sins his blood was shed. Surely the thought of Christ crucified should make us loathe all sin. As the church of England Homily of Passion says so well: “Let this image of Christ crucified be always printed in our hearts. Let it stir us up to the hatred of sin, and provoke our minds to the earnest love of Almighty God.”
Excerpted from Matthew (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels) by J.C. Ryle