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THE ATONEMENT
Fr. Steven Scherrer
Homily of Saturday, 10th Week of the Year, June 13, 2009
2 Cor 5:14-21, Ps 102, Mt 5:33-37


"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21).


With this verse we are at the heart of the mystery of the atonement which Christ worked for us on the cross. In himself, Christ was without sin, but for our sake God "made him to be sin" (2 Cor 5:21), that is, he laid our sins upon him. God did this so that Christ might suffer for our sins their just punishment according to the law, so that we would not have to suffer it, but rather could go free, justly forgiven, being made righteous before God. St. Paul therefore says, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21). "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Is 53:6 KJV). Hence "the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Is 53:5 KJV). His "chastisement" brought us peace because he suffered instead of us for our sins. He was cursed by God instead of us for our sins to free us from the curse of God. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us-for it is written, Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree" (Gal 3:13; Dt 21:23).


Hence God, "sending his own Son...for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Rom 8:3-4). In other words, God sent his Son as a sin offering, and thus he condemned sin in the flesh of Jesus Christ, in order to fulfill the just requirement of the law for us. The just requirement of the law was that sinners die for their sin. Jesus Christ fulfilled this just requirement of the law for us by dying on the cross. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1). We are, therefore, no longer condemned, but are rather made righteous through our faith in Jesus Christ. "...in him we...become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21).


Hence we are reconciled with God (2 Cor 5:18-20) and made a new creation, for "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor 5:17 KJV). We are, therefore, no longer to live for ourselves, but only for him who died and rose for us, for "he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Cor 5:15). We, therefore, now have a new life, in that we live no longer for ourselves, nor for our pleasures, but only for him who saved us and gave us this new life. In this sense we die for him who died for us: for if "one has died for all; therefore all have died" (2 Cor 5:14). We die to our old way of living for ourselves and for our pleasures, and now we are made new, and live only for him who died and rose for us (2 Cor 5:15). We live, therefore, dead to our former manner of living for our own pleasures, and risen now in Christ for a new way of life in him, living only for him who died and rose for us (2 Cor 5:15). This doctrine of the atonement gives peace to the conscience, and those who preach it have a ministry of reconciliation, reconciling God with man.


 


 


 

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