In the Bible, Jesus Christ is given many titles and names, all of which aid in our understanding of who He is. He’s called Savior, Lord, Word, Light, Son of God, Son of Man, and much more. One description we may not use very often is Sin Bearer, yet this title describes exactly what He did on the cross. It’s the reason we regularly observe the Lord’s Supper in our churches.
There were no chairs in the temple, because the priests’ work was never done. However, the writer of Hebrews tells us that Christ our Sin Bearer, “having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:11-12).
Consider the prophecy of Christ’s sacrifice in Isaiah 53:4-6:
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
Long before Jesus came to earth, His role as the Sin Bearer was symbolized in the sacrificial system of worship God established for the Jews in Leviticus 16:21-22. Then hundreds of years later, John the Baptist came on the scene, paving the way for the Messiah and announcing, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
In Isaiah 53:6, the prophet states that God allowed our wickedness and the penalty for our sins to “fall” on Christ. The word comes from the Hebrew term hipgîà, a derivation of paga, which means “to meet, encounter, or reach.”
Let’s read the following passages to better understand what Jesus accomplished through His death on the cross in His role as Sin Bearer.
John 10:17-18—His death was voluntary. From a human perspective, it may have seemed that Jesus was a victim of crucifixion, but no one could take the life of the omnipotent Son of God; He Himself laid it down.
Romans 3:23-26—His death was a “satisfaction.” How could God show mercy to sinners if His justice required that sin be punished? The only way was to pour out His wrath on His Son, whose death would fully pay mankind’s penalty for sin and propitiate (satisfy) God’s justice. Then He could be both just and the justifier of those who come to Him through Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:21—His death was a substitution. Jesus was judged for our sins, all of which He bore in His body (1 Peter 2:24), and His record of righteousness was credited to our account.
1 Timothy 2:5-6—His death was necessary. Without His ransom, there would be no mediator between holy God and sinful man; all humanity would come under divine wrath.
1 John 2:2—His death was sufficient. His sacrifice wasn’t just partially effective; it was completely sufficient for all our sins. Nothing else is required, because Christ paid sin’s penalty in full on the cross.
Hebrews 9:24-26—His death was final. The Old Testament priests had to enter the holy place year after year to offer the blood of sacrifice, but Jesus’ blood covered all sins for all time. That’s why He cried from the cross, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
In Judaism, a sacrifice was known as a korban, and an animal sacrifice specifically was referred to as a zevah. The animals most commonly sacrificed were bulls, sheep, goats, deer, and doves.
The scope of all that Christ accomplished is staggering, but there is only one way to personally receive the benefits He has provided as the Sin Bearer: Come to Him in faith, calling out for salvation.
What does Christ’s role as Sin Bearer reveal about the great chasm between holy God and sinful humanity? Have you personally come to Jesus as your Mediator?
How does Christ’s willingness to bear sin inspire you to love Him more? What does it say about your eternal security in Him?