They scourge Him, ripping flesh from bone. They mock Him, place a crown of thorns on His head. They spit on Him and they beat him. Then they crucified Him. The mocking continues and Jesus not only suffers physical pain beyond the body’s ability to comprehend, but He watches as those He loves suffer His loss. For six hours this agony continues, working His arms and legs to grab another breath. He would first feel the panic of asphyxiation and the desperate need for air. Then, He would simultaneously pull down with his arms against the spikes in his wrists while pushing up with his legs against the spikes in His ankles. Moments later the panic would return accompanied by the anticipation of the painful price of He would pay for the next breath. Then in a loud voice Jesus yells out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” A moment later He uses His remaining strength to breath out a last time in a loud cry and then it is done.
We don’t know what that momemnt looked like, sounded like, or felt like, but we have an eyewitness. “When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God! Jesus once asked His disciples “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" The gospel writer Mark follows that up with “For even the Son of Man [came] to give His life a ransom for many." That’s the story Mark wanted to tell.
But, what does it mean that Jesus was our ransom? A ransom is the price paid to redeem someone from captivity into freedom. It refers to our redemption from sin. In theological terms, redemption is one part of a bigger idea: atonement. By His work in life and death, Jesus earned our salvation. He atoned for us, wiping away our sin and replacing it with His righteousness.
In life, Jesus lived perfectly, satisfying every requirement of God’s law. What Adam, and all of us coming after could not do, Jesus did, able to place his perfect righteousness for the benefit of those who respond to His call. We receive more than a neutral position from Jesus. Through death he paid the penalty of sin, but in life, He made possible our eternal acceptance by God.
The New Testament uses several perspectives to gain a full view of the atoning work of Christ in His death. Because we deserve on our own to die for the penalty of our sins, Jesus became our sacrifice. Because we deserve to bear God’s wrath against sin, Jesus died to satisfy God’s wrath. Because our sins have separated us from God, Jesus’ death reconciles us to God. Because sin and Satan hold us in bondage, Jesus redeems us.
We described earlier how the sufferings of Jesus intensified as He approached the cross until that point where He finally bore the penalty for our sin and died in our place. Jesus suffered a gruesome death, but so did the thousands that were crucified during His time. Beyond the physical pain, he bore the pain of enduring to satisfaction the penalty of our sin. Consider for a moment, the guilt that accompanies sin for each of us now. Certainly, we want to quickly recognize that in our saved state, our guilt is a holdover from before our own atonement, but our first reaction to sin is often the shadow of guilt. Now imagine that you cannot rely on the atonement of Jesus for to wipe away your guilt. What would the anguish of that guilty knowledge of one sin feel like? What if you found yourself at the end of days standing before God bearing the guilt for the sin of your entire life? What if you were Jesus who took on the guilt of every sin of every person of faith for all of time?
Jesus did not just “bear” or hold onto our sin. No, His pain resulted from choosing to become sin for us, to become a curse in our stead.
On top of the physical pain and the agony of becoming sin, Jesus experienced the abandonment and wrath of God. Only on His own, alone, could He complete His mission. Surely He experienced pain at the abandonment of His disciples, but what must the abandonment the Father have been like, to hang alone having become sin and no longer experiencing oneness with the Father? Finally, Jesus received in Himself the torturous wrath of God, wrath stored up for all the sins of the past and those yet to come.
Remember as Children when we sat in the bright summer sun with a magnifying glass and a piece of paper (or an anthill for those of us who quickly tire of inanimate objects)? Remember how we could start a fire or annihilate a column of ants in just moments under the intensified heat of the sun? Now imagine that instead of the power of the sun, we observe the Creator of the sun and His necessary anger at the rebellious attack on His righteousness. That alone should strike terror in the heart of any person. Now, instead of a magnifying glass we see the Creator focus that wrath on the person of Jesus nailed to a cross on the top of hill. Jesus endured for hours until He had taken the full measure of God’s wrath.
In this state, Jesus cries out the words of Psalm 22:1-2: My God, My God, why have You forsaken me. Mirroring the sentiment of David who wondered why God had delayed so in rescuing Him. Then finally the torrent of God’s wrath subsided, His righteous demand for payment satisfied. Mission accomplished, the price paid, and Jesus, whose life was His alone to give, let it go.
 Hebrews 9:26.
 I John 4:10.
 II Corinthians 5:18-19.
 Mark 10:45
 I Peter 2:24.
 I Corinthians 5:21.
 Galatians 3:13.
 John 10:30.