The Scriptures are explicit that not just a few, who call themselves Christians or who believe a certain way, but all mankind will benefit by the death of Jesus. Hebrews 2:9 states, “Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man.” God’s justice demands that all mankind, living and dead, before and after the death of Christ, will experience the benefits of Christ’s death.
The following scriptures unfold the beautiful logic of God’s justice in this matter: I Timothy 2:6 speaks of Jesus’ death as “a ransom for all to be testified in due time.” The word “ransom” is a translation of the Greek word anti-lutron which means corresponding price. Father Adam, perfect, sinned. Death passed upon him and the prospective human race yet in his loins. Deliverance from death required the payment of a corresponding price, the death of a perfect man. No member of the sinful, imperfect, human race could pay this price. Only Jesus, who was “holy, harmless, separate from sinners” could (Hebrews 7:26).
The perfect man Jesus died for Adam’s sin, thereby redeeming Adam and his offspring, the human race, from death. Paul in Romans 5:17 says, “Therefore as by the offense of one [Adam], judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Jesus], the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”
The question is sometimes raised, does not the providing of a ransom for man’s escape from death prove that the death sentence was unjust or too severe, and therefore God changed His mind? The very fact God provided so expensive a ransom price proves that His justice is unbending. In courts of law, several forms of punishment may be equally just for a specific crime; for example, five years’ imprisonment or twenty thousand dollars. Say we were penniless and received such a sentence. After serving half a year, a complete stranger came along and took an interest in our case and paid the twenty thousand dollars, would we not feel indebted to him for the rest of our lives!
The Scriptures reveal that the ransom price, as a satisfaction for justice, was coexistent as an alternative to the death sentence. Thus, Jesus is spoken of as “slain from before the foundation of the world” (I Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 13:8). The Psalmist also states that no man could give a ransom for his brother (Psalms 49:7).
For man’s eternal good, God permits him to experience the effects of the death sentence. Then He applies the alternative means of satisfying justice, the ransom price. When mankind becomes fully aware, they will be eternally indebted to their Redeemer, the one who paid the fine to the court of the universe for their release from the prison-house of death.
Why Jesus Suffered
Not only did Jesus die to provide the fine, a perfect human life that will eventually release the human race from death, but during his lifetime he suffered at the hands of his fellow man so that he could fully sympathize with their every need.
The Prophet Isaiah anticipated Jesus’ suffering. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows acquainted with grief…. Surely he has borne our grief, and carried our sorrows…. He was wounded for our transgressions… and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53: 3-5.
Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus is a sympathetic high priest who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Jesus continually permitted himself to be afflicted through contact with sinful man. Every time Jesus healed, it was at the expense of his own strength. We read that “virtue [strength] went out from him” (Mark 5:30) as he healed the blind, the lame, the deaf, the lepers. He was expending his own strength so that he might be touched with a feeling of our infirmities.
Further, Jesus was mocked. He experienced brutality, violence and murder at the hands of his fellow men. As a Jew, he tasted the racial scorn of the Romans. He identified himself with poverty, drudgery and obscurity. Full of compassion, his heart was moved for the mentally ill, the physically sick, the lame, the deaf, the blind. Why? So that in his Kingdom Christ will know just what lessons mankind will need. “Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.” (Hebrews 5:2) Jesus assumed upon his shoulders the ills of what this world is coming to. Indeed, he has compassion on the ignorant and them that are out of the way. Those whom he ransomed, he will know how to restore.