Christians call the death of Jesus good news. But how can the death of the only perfectly innocent man be good? While understanding everything that happened when Jesus died is challenging, and realistically, probably impossible to understand completely, when we look at what the Bible has to say about it, we can begin to see that Jesus’ death is not only good news, but also something beautiful.
At the heart of the reason behind Jesus’ death is this concept of atonement, which means, basically, to reconcile or make peace between sinners and God. And right at the white-hot-center of the atonement is Jesus substitutionary death on the cross. Without Jesus as our substitute, taking our place and dying for our sins, there is no gospel. He did what we cannot.
But there is more to the atonement than only Jesus’ death as a substitute. For example:
Jesus’ death on the cross, the atonement, is the supreme demonstration of God’s love for sinners. First John 4 verse 10 puts it this way, that “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
The atonement also shows how seriously God takes sin. Jesus’ death satisfies every requirement for God to be able to forgive the failures of humanity.
And the atonement puts Christ’s cosmic victory over sin, Satan, and death on display through His resurrection. Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; he triumphed over them in him,” as Colossians 2:15 says.
While we can come to these aspects of the atonement and see them as being in conflict with one another, we need to remember that all of them are found in the Bible. All of them work together to show the beauty and good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. And so every aspect of the atonement is worthy of our attention, our admiration, and ultimately our gratitude because it is only through the death and resurrection of Jesus that we have peace with God.