24” He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (I Peter 2:24).
The penal-substitutionary atonement by Jesus Christ while on the cross is one of the most important doctrines contained in the Scriptures. The teaching is that Jesus Christ took the sinner’s place while on the cross and received upon Himself the just wrath of God. It is taught not only in I Peter 2:24, but throughout the Scriptures (Isaiah 53; 4-11; Hebrews 9:27-28; I Peter 3:18).
The phrase “He Himself” refers in the context to Jesus Christ. The word “bore” (ἀναφέρω; anaphereo) means to carry up, to lead up or to carry a load. Jesus carried the sinner’s sins (ἁμαρτία; hamartia) in His body on the tree (ξύλον; xylon) which literally means the cross.
As pastor Dr. John MacArthur explains, “Christ suffered not simply as the Christian’s pattern (vv.21-23), but far more importantly as the Christian’s substitute. To bear sins was to be punished for them (Numbers 14:33; Ezekiel 18:20). Christ bore the punishment and the penalty for believers, thus satisfying a holy God (I Peter 3:18). This great doctrine of the substitutionary atonement is the heart of the gospel.
While Christ’s substitutionary atonement is sufficient in principle for all sinners, actual atonement is efficient or effectual for only those who believe, that is the elect (Leviticus 16:17; 23:27-30; John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 1:1-2:10; I Timothy 2:1-6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 2:9; I John 2:1-2; 4:9-10).
Take the opportunity today to pray for those who have yet to receive Christ as their Savior and Lord. Pray that God would grant them repentance leading to eternal life (2 Timothy 2:25). Take time also today to thank God that He has chosen to save you through the substitutionary atonement provided solely by Jesus Christ.
Soli deo Gloria!