Instead of Me*

I was born to young parents---teenagers. But I still had a very stable home and a crib of my own. I was safe and secure. Well, ostensibly anyway. Although I was intimately knit together by God in my mother’s womb, I was born his enemy. I was sinful, unholy, a child of wrath. But God would not leave me that way. Instead of me, his Son was born far from his home with a target on his head. As I grew, I did not seek him. I looked to what the world could offer for comfort, blessing, and fulfillment. Instead of me, the Son of God stripped himself of his glory to be a man of sorrows. While I sinned greatly to avoid the least of afflictions, he took on the greatest of afflictions to account for my sin, and all those the Father has given him.* This is what he promised to do. In an eternal covenant the Son of God claimed that he was for me. And I do not remember the day that I turned to him in faith and repentance. In hindsight, I see his fingerprints all over the crime scenes of my life. The evidence says, “Not her, but me.” How is this so? The day that I deserved, no, the eternity that I deserved under the wrath of God for my wayward rebellion, was satisfied in Christ. And instead of me, he fulfilled all righteousness. Now I am declared “just” because he is just. His holiness exchanges for my sin. His presence in me through his Spirit and the washing of the Word so effectually proclaimed is transforming me into the likeness of the Son. Because of this, instead of me, he was the one who cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” How can I merely say that he stepped in to die on my behalf? No, the life and death of the incarnate Son was not just on my behalf, it was instead of me. And it was instead of the many.   *This is a reflection I had while reading David Wells, God in the Whirlwind, particularly this statement, “His death was not simply on behalf of others but it was instead of others. It was in place of the ‘many’” (138). *From Jeremiah Burroughs, The Evil of Evils: “ That it is a very evil choice for any soul under heaven to choose the least sin rather than the greatest affliction” (2).