Here is an advent message from Paul David Tripp. Enjoy! Enjoy the season!
That baby in the manger came as our ultimate substitute. Everything he would do, he would do on our behalf, for our salvation.
For once I was excited to go to Spanish class. Word had gotten out that our regular Spanish teacher was sick, and we would have a substitute. I had also heard something about the substitute: she wasn’t a Spanish teacher. I thought I had hit the jackpot. We would probably do nothing in class and would surely be assigned no homework. For the first time in my life, I rushed to Spanish class.
My apologies to any substitutes who may read this, but I grew up expecting very little from the substitute teachers who filled in for our regular instructors. They tended to be unprepared (probably because they were called at the last minute) and not very knowledgeable (probably because they were filling outside of their area of expertise), and because of these things, they were often nervous and ill at ease.
The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus came as our substitute, but in hearing that, you can throw out all experiences you have had with substitute teachers. Jesus came as the ultimate substitute to stand in our place, but he came to live infinitely better than any of us could ever live on our own. One of the ways the Bible talks about this is to call Jesus the “second Adam.” It is a provocative title, worth examining.
The first Adam was created by God and placed in a perfect world, in perfect relationship with God. Adam literally had it all: no earthly needs unmet and no separation between him and God. But in an act of outrageous rebellion against God, he took his life into his own hands, stepped outside God’s boundaries, and did exactly what God had warned him not to do. He had it all, but he miserably failed, and when he did, sin, sickness, and suffering entered the world. Like fine china thrown on the pavement, the perfection of the world shattered. Adam now lived under God’s judgment, and the world groaned in brokenness.
What the world cried out for was a substitute, but not any substitute would do. This substitute needed to be special in every way, so that he would not fail the test as the first Adam had. He had to be perfect in righteousness and mighty in power, or he too would fail. No one on earth could meet the requirements, so God sent the only One who was up to the task, the only One who would not succumb to the pressure and fail the test. God sent the one person whom he knew was qualified to be the second Adam: his Son.
Everything Jesus did, from the first moment of his birth until his ascension to the right hand of his Father, he did as our substitute. What he did in every situation, location, and relationship, he did in our place. Every decision he made, every temptation he faced, every trial or moment of suffering he endured, was on our behalf. But this is vital to understand: he never failed one single test. He faced all the ravages of life in this fallen world without sinning in any way. He was the perfect substitute.
And because Jesus was the perfect substitute, on the cross he made the perfectly acceptable sacrifice, and because he did, he satisfied God’s requirement, and the penalty for our sin was lifted. Jesus, the second Adam, is our first and only hope in life and death. Because of his substitution we are redeemed. God sent One in our place who would do infinitely better than we could ever do, because our salvation depended upon it. The Christmas story is the most glorious stand-in story ever!
For further study: 2 Corinthians 5:17–21
For parents and children:
Central theme: Substitute
Ask you children what they think a substitute is. Talk about substitute teachers and substitutes in sports. Talk about how usually substitutes are not as qualified as the people they’re working in the place of. Then talk about how Jesus was born to be our substitute, to do things for us that we could never do on our own.
Come Let Us Adore Him © 2017 by Paul Tripp Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.