My Substitute

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 5
When I was a little boy at school, I saw a sight I can never forget—a man tied to a cart and dragged before the people's eyes through the streets of my native town, his back torn and bleeding from the lash. It was a shameful punishment. For many offences? No; for one offence. Did any of the men offer to divide the lashes with him? No; he who committed the offence bore the penalty alone. It was the penalty of a changing human law, for it was the last instance of it infliction.
When I was a student at the university I saw another sight I never can forget, a man brought out to die. His arms were pinioned, his face was already pale as death—thousands of eager eyes were upon him as he came up from the jail in sight. Did any man ask to die in his room? Did any friend come and loose the rope and say, "Put it round my neck; I die instead?" No; he underwent the sentence of the law. For many offences? No; for one offence. He had stolen a money parcel from a stagecoach. He broke the law at one point, and died for it. It was the penalty of a changing human law in this case also; it was the last instance of capital punishment for that offence.
I saw another sight—it matters not when—myself a sinner standing on the brink of ruin, deserving nothing but Hell. For one sin? No; for many sins committed against the unchanging law of God. But again I looked, and, by faith, saw Jesus, my Substitute, scourged in my stead and dying on the Cross for me. I looked, and believed, and was forgiven. And it seems to be my duty to tell you of that Savior, to see if you will not also look and live.
And how simple it all becomes when God opens the eye. A friend told me of a very careless old man, who had, during a severe illness, been led to feel that he was a sinner. He dared not die as he was. The minister whom he sent for got tired of visiting him, having told him all he knew of the way of salvation, but without result. But one Sunday afternoon the sick man's daughter waited in the vestry saying,
"You must come once more, sir; I cannot see my father again without you."
"I can tell him nothing new," said the preacher, "but I may take the sermon I have been preaching and read it to him."
The dying man lay, as before, in anguish, thinking of his sins and whither they must carry him.
"My friend, I have come to read you the sermon I have just preached. First, I shall tell you the text,
`He was wounded for our transgressions.' Now I shall read."
"Hold!" said the dying man, "I have it! Read no more; 'He was wounded for my transgressions.' " Soon after that he rejoiced in Christ's saving power.
By nature and practice we are all sinners —all "dead in trespasses and sins"—all rebels against God, and the doom for every sin of every sinner is eternal death—eternal separation and banishment from the holy presence of God. But in the infinitude of His love to our fallen race, God offers to each of us individually a free and full pardon, and life now and forever, if we only believe on Jesus Christ, His Son, whom He sent to suffer in our stead—to die that we might live.