Author: Ron Graham
Jesus once told a parable about a slave who owed his king millions of dollars. He told his lord that he would pay back every cent, yet it was clear that he could not. The king felt compassion for the slave and was willing to cancel the entire debt (Matthew 18:23-27).
We are in that same position before God. We cannot make right all our wrongs, so God takes pity on us and grants forgiveness of our debt. He does this through Jesus his Son, "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29).
Because we cannot redeem ourselves from sin, God has compassion on us and pays the price himself, cancelling our debt to him. The price paid, and the sacrifice made, to accomplish our redemption, was nothing less than the death of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Only the death of Christ could take away sins (Hebrews 9:15). The new law or covenant is better because it is self-contained, being based on Christ’s death, and on his blood, as the atoning sacrifice. So the new law of Christ is able to provide forgiveness (Matthew 26:28).
All former sacrifices for sin would have have been ineffective had they not foreshadowed and anticipated the death of Christ. It was necessary that Christ "put away sin by sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26b). "He himself is the atonement for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world’s" (1John 2:2).
Once the death of Jesus took place, all the transgressions committed under the former law were at last able to be taken away for ever. The former law did not provide such redemption. Those who were under the law had to believe in something apart from the law and beyond it, to gain forgiveness. The law itself could not accomplish it.
When Jesus died on the cross, he took away not only our sins, but also the things that are associated with sin, namely the law and death. Paul explains to us how the law gives sin an opportunity, and then sin brings about death (Romans 7:4-13). Notice carefully in this passage how Paul links the three things, law, sin, and death.
In our next two lessons, we will go on to consider how Jesus not only took away sins, but also took away the Law and took away death.