The above is question someone posed to Pastor John Piper recently. Actually, I’ve had this question for a long time, but I had no fulfilling answers. How can God be just in letting an innocent man, His Son Jesus Christ, die and take the penalty for guilty sinners? I know that death is a must because ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Rom 6:23) – We are all sinners; that’s the price we have to pay. We experience death every day, in our inclination to rebel, in our hurts inflicted by people and from ourselves, and in disappointments and despair; we are already spiritually dead. And we will face physical death at the end of our earthly lives. But why should an innocent Man die just to fulfil the righteous requirement of the law? That’s not the justice that I understand. No legal system in the world would allow a man take the penalty of a guilty party; otherwise, that’s a kangaroo court. So how could a just God let an innocent man die?
Pastor Piper’s answer invoked a deeper thought into the requirements of the law and the purpose of the law. Any violation of the law is against the law-giver, a disregard of authority, be it a state, institution, or person. Sin is not an impersonal evil force or simply, human weakness. Sin is a rebellion against God, a disobedience of His commandments. And so my focus shifts from the ‘who’ (the perpetuator’) to the ‘against whom’ (the Law). The law is not just to keep people within boundaries and punish those who deviate, but to point us to the Law-giver and restores us to our original state, before there was death. That’s real justice – restorative and life-giving.