Why the Atonement Isn’t Divine Abuse

“Objection: But to punish the innocent in the place of the guilty is also repugnant to the justice of God.
Answer: This objection would have force, 1.If the innocent one were unwilling to
endure the punishment which would be required.
2.If he were not of the same nature with the guilty.
3. If he were not able to undergo a sufficient punishment.
4. If he could not come forth from this punishment; for God would not have the innocent to perish for the guilty.
5. If he were not able to renew and regenerate the sinner, and give him faith so that he might embrace his benefits. But all these conditions meet in Christ, as is clearly evident from. the following portions of Scripture: “Christ has loved us and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savor.” “I lay down my life for
the sheep.” “He was wounded for our transgressions, and was bruised for our iniquities.” “Christ died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” “I lay down my life that I might take it again.” “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it.” “Who gave himself for us,
that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” -Zacharias Ursinus, Heidelberg Catechism Commentary

The Loss Experienced on the Cross

“Even though we’re all familiar with loss, and some losses are agonizingly grievous, we’ve never experienced the loss that was known in heaven when the Father sent his Son to earth (1 John 4:14). Even though we are quite familiar with separation in relationship, we can’t imagine what it cost the Trinity to redeem us. Think about the Trinity: here was a relationship that was completely perfect in every way. There was an abundance of love and joy flowing in eternal reciprocity between the three members of the Godhead. Never was there a shadow of doubt about commitment, affection, honor. Complete faithfulness, complete agreement, complete self-sacrificing delight, and complete transparency forever and ever. As I said, we can’t imagine what our sin cost him. We can’t imagine the depth of a love that would sacrifice such joy for the good of another.” -Elyse Fitzpatrick, Comforts of the Cross


Why Were the Martyrs So Courageous in Death When Jesus Was Very Troubled in His Death?

“But since the divine nature was united to the human, how is it possible that it was so oppressed and weakened as to break forth in such exclamations of anguish; and especially so when there were martyrs who were far more bold and courageous? The cause of this arises from the difference which there was in the punishment which Christ endured and that of martyrs. St. Lawrence, lying on the gridiron, did not experience the dreadful wrath of God, either against his own, or against the sins of the human race, the entire punishment of which was inflicted upon the Son of God, as Isaiah says, he was stricken, and smitten of God for our sins: We say, then, that St. Lawrence did not feel the anger of an offended God piercing and wounding him; but felt that God was reconciled, and at peace with him; neither did he experience the horrors of death and hell as Christ did, but he had great consolation, because he suffered on account of confessing the gospel, and was assured that his sins were remitted by and for the sake of the Son of God, upon whom they were laid, according to what is said, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29) Hence it is easy to be accounted for, why St. Lawrence seemed to have more Courage and presence of mind in his martyrdom, than Christ in his passion; and hence it is also that the human nature of Christ, although united to the Godhead, was made to sweat drops of blood in the garden, and to give vent to the mournful lamentation, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Not that there was any separation between the natures in Christ; but because the humanity was for a time forsaken by the Divinity, the Word being at rest, or quiet, (as Irenaeus says) and not bringing aid and deliverance to the afflicted humanity until a passion altogether sufficient might be endured and finished.” -Zacharius Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism

[NOTE: Ursinus’s teaching about the divine nature of Jesus abandoning him at the cross is not great theology. It was actually the Holy Spirit that empowered the person Christ to do great works, have aid, etc, not the divine nature. In fact the divine nature is fully active in the suffering of Christ, keeping the human nature from disintegrating under the judgment of God. However his discussion of Christ’s lament vs. the courage of martyrs is quite insightful.]