How could the life, let alone the death, of one man 2,000 years ago be the salvation of the human race? The biblical explanation is the atonement: the crucified one was the Son of God, acting and suffering in cooperation with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is presented in all four Gospels, and occupies considerable space in the overall narrative. The death of this one person has universal, inclusive and cosmic significance, because in him the Creator acts and suffers. This is the primary answer to "the scandal of particularity." There is also a special relationship between Christ and humanity--he was "with" us, and he was "for" us. The grandeur of the cross lies in the fact that the incarnate Son of God offered himself in our place, bearing the penalty for our sin. Donald Macleod considers seven key words Christians have used through the centuries to describe what happened on the cross: substitution, expiation, propitiation, reconciliation, satisfaction, redemption and victory. No single one of these tells the whole truth, nor do all of them together exhaust the meaning of the cross. Macleod shows that these concepts are interrelated and interdependent, and that together they give a coherent picture of the salvation wrought by Jesus at Calvary.
Understanding the Atonement
Mind, Body & Spirit