A: Simply put, Jesus takes responsibility for our wrongdoing. This isn’t so difficult to understand. After all, a parent can accept the consequences for a child’s actions; an officer can make himself accountable for the actions of the men under his command. Hence the Cross, where the Son of God takes responsibility for those who will come to him. If we will draw near to him, he will accept us as his children. The blame and the shame will be his and his alone.
A parent is not responsible for a stranger. We can only be accountable for those who have united with us in some way. If you distance yourself from Christ’s sacrifice the Cross will be of no benefit to you. If you come to him, you must accept him for who he is: you must give him his rights as your Creator, Saviour and Lord.
Q: But why couldn’t God just forgive us? Why did Jesus have to die?
A: We all know that we’re broken. We’ve all wished for terrible things in our most private thoughts. That inner selfishness, that lust for experience and power, has led to immense cruelty. If God simply waved his hand and said “I forgive you” he would be condoning sin; he would be saying it didn’t matter.
Q: But if Jesus was punished, how is this forgiveness?
A: There are always consequences to wrongdoing. Of course, the guilty party deserves to carry the consequences; but when you forgive someone you don’t seek justice. You agree carry the consequences instead. The Father’s heart broke when he gave his only Son. The Son suffered the punishment that we deserved. They carried the consequences we ought to have suffered; they forgave us.