Chapter 36

The Satisfaction Of Christ

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. {10} For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”                                                 -- Hebrews 2:9-10

Without question, the most wondrous of all God’s works is the work of redemption. When we attempt to consider what that work involved, we are lost in astonishment. When we think of the unutterable depths of shame and sorrow into which the Lord of glory entered to save us, we are awed and staggered. A. W. Pink wrote…

“That the eternal Son of God should lay aside the robes of His ineffable glory and take upon Him the form of a servant, that the Ruler of heaven and earth should be ‘made under the law’ (Gal. 4:4), that the Creator of the universe should tabernacle in this world and ‘have not where to lay His head’ (Matt. 8:20), is something which no finite mind can comprehend; but where carnal reason fails us, God-given faith believes and worships.”

Unfathomable Agony

As we trace the path of our Savior from the throne of life to the tomb of death and behold him who was rich, for our sakes, becoming poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich, we cannot fathom the depths of the wonders before us.

We know that every step in the path of our Redeemer’s humiliation was ordained in the eternal purpose of God. Yet, it was a path of immeasurable sorrow, unutterable anguish, ceaseless ignominy, bitter hatred, and relentless persecution that, at last, brought the beloved Son of God, the Darling of heaven, to suffer the painful, shameful death of the cross! Who could ever have imagined such things as these?

Standing at the foot of the cross, as I behold the Holy One nailed to the cursed tree, covered with his own blood and the spit of an enraged mob, made to be sin, forsaken and cursed of God his Father, yet, realizing that this is the work of God’s own hand, I am lost in astonishment! I am filled with reverence and awe (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13).

‘Yonder - amazing sight! - I see

The incarnate Son of God

Expiring on the cursed tree,

And weltering in His blood.


Behold, a purple torrent run

Down from his hands and head,

The crimson tide puts out the sun;

His groans awake the dead.


The trembling earth, the darkened sky,

Proclaim the truth aloud;

And with the amazed centurion, cry,

‘This is the Son of God!’”


Awed as I am with reverence for my crucified Lord, still there is a question that I cannot suppress, a question that reason and sound judgment cannot fail to ask. The question is just this: -- Why? Why did the Son of God suffer such a death? Why did God so torment his beloved Son and kill him in such a horribly ignominious way?

Was it to save my soul? I know that he did so that I might live. He suffered, the Just for the unjust, that he might bring me to God. But was there no other way for the omnipotent God to save me?  -- Was all this done to demonstrate the greatness of God’s love to me? Indeed it was (Rom. 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10).

“Jesus, who left His throne on high,

Left the bright realms of bliss,

And came to earth to bleed and die,

Was ever love like this?”

But, surely, God could have revealed his love to me in some other way. Why did he slay his Son? What necessity was there for the Son of God to suffer and die upon the cursed tree?

Only one answer can be found to that question. -- The justice of God had to be satisfied. There was no necessity for God to save anyone. Salvation is altogether the free gift of his grace. But, having determined to save his elect from the ruins of fallen humanity, the only way God could save his people and forgive their sins was by the death of Christ. “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22).   The justice of God had to be satisfied in order for God to save his people; and the only thing that could ever satisfy the justice of God is the blood of Christ.

Satisfaction Necessary

I want to show you from the Word of God both the necessity and the blessedness of Christ’s satisfaction of divine justice by his death on the cross. This is a doctrine of utmost importance. It is the glory of the gospel and the glory of the Christian religion. It is the satisfaction of divine justice by the death of Christ that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions. Take the cross out of Christianity, take away the satisfaction of Christ by his death upon the cross, and Christianity is of no more value and benefit to the souls of men than Judaism, Islam, or Hinduism. This is of paramount importance, because without satisfaction for sin, there could be no salvation from it.

The Scriptures warn us of “damnable heresies” brought in by false prophets. Among those damnable heresies, none is more common and none more destructive to the souls of men than the denial of Christ’s satisfaction (Heb. 10:26-29[1]).

Hebrews 2:9-10

Perhaps Hebrews 2:9-10 states the necessity of Christ’s satisfaction for sin more clearly than any other single text.

We see Jesus” -- We see him with the eye of faith. We see him, because the Spirit of God has revealed him to us. We see that he is Jesus, our Savior, the Christ of God. We see in him the fulness of the Godhead (Col. 2:9), the fulness of grace (John 1:14; Col. 1:19), and the fulness of redemption (Eph. 1:7). We see him as Christ, our Redeemer, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Lord our Righteousness. We see him as our all (1 Cor. 1:31). Do you see him? If you do, flesh and blood has not revealed him to you, but our Father in heaven.

Who was made a little lower than the angels” -- He who made the angels was made a little lower than the angels. He was made of the seed of woman, made to be a man, “made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law” (Gal. 4:4-5). This is the reason for the incarnation. This is why Christ was made a little lower than the angels…

For the suffering of death” -- The Son of God came into this world for the purpose of suffering death. He did not come to be an earthly monarch in Jerusalem. He did not come to establish a new religion. He did not come to be a reformer, or a mere example of morality and virtue. Christ, the Son of God, became a man so that he might die in the place of men and redeem them. He came here to die, because there was no other way for his people to be saved and live. We see this too, since he suffered and died in the place of his people, the Lord Jesus Christ is now…

Crowned with glory and honor(Phil. 2:8-11). -- Christ is exalted. That Man who died for us at Calvary is now crowned with glory, given all honor, as the Lord of all. The God-man, the Man-God, who died for us, now rules the world to save those people for whom he died (John 17:2). Now, look at the next line. Christ “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death…”

That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” This statement, like all others, must be interpreted within its context and in the light of the entire Word of God. Is this a declaration that Christ died even for those for whom he refused to pray (John 17:9), for those who are not his sheep (John 10:11), for those who are vessels of wrath fitted to destruction (Rom. 9:22), for those from whom he has hidden both his works and his grace (Matt. 11:20-25)? Of course not! Does this statement mean that Christ died for those who suffer the wrath of God in hell? No. That would be a declaration that there are some for whom Christ shed his blood in vain and would be a denial of the efficacy of his atonement. What, then, is the meaning of this statement? “That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”

Christ died not merely as a good example, or merely for the good of men, but as the Surety, in the room and place of men. However, our translators, with no apparent reason except to make the sentence read more easily, added the word “man”. In the Greek text there simply is no word in this verse that should be translated “man.” The sentence literally should be translated, “That he by the grace of God should taste death for every,” or “for all,” or “for every one.” The Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died upon the cursed tree for every one of the sons he would bring to glory (v. 10), for every one of the brethren he is not ashamed to own (v. 11), for every member of the church, in the midst of which he will sing praise (v. 12), for every one of the children God the Father had given him to save, for whose sake he assumed flesh and blood (v. 13), and for every one of Abraham’s seed, God’s elect, whom he took hold of to save (v. 16).

Why was the Son of God made so humble as to suffer and die for his people? What necessity was there for his humiliation and death in the room and stead of his people? Read verse 10…

For it became him”-- It was necessary, if God would save sinners and bring them to glory, that the Son of God must suffer in their room and stead all that the law and justice of God could demand. The Scriptures plainly declare that there was a necessity for the death of Christ (Matt. 16:21; 26:29; John 3:14). It was necessitated by the decree of God (Acts 2:23), -- Christ’s covenant engagements as our Surety (John 10:17-18), -- the prophecies of the Old Testament (Matt. 26:54), -- and the election of grace. God did not have to save anyone; but since he has chosen to save some, the only way he could save them was by the satisfaction of justice, through the sacrifice of his own dear Son.

When Paul says, “it became him,” that it was necessary for God to slay his Son to save his people, lest we begin to think that this implies some weakness in God, he immediately describes our God with these words - for whom are all things and by whom are all things.” Here the Lord God is described as that One who is both the ultimate end and first cause of all things (Rom. 11:36). All things are for him. He made all things for himself, for the glorifying of all the perfections of his nature (Pro. 16:4; 2 Cor. 5:18). And all things are by him. All things in nature, all things in providence, all things in redemption, and all things in grace are the work of our God.

In bringing many sons unto glory” -- This is an intimation of God’s gracious designs toward his elect. Those whom Christ came to save are many. They were already the sons of God by eternal adoption and divine predestination long before Christ came to redeem them (Gal. 4:4-6). In the covenant of grace, our God declared, “I will be their Father, and they shall be my sons and daughters.” We were chosen to be the children of God from eternity. We were given power and authority to become the sons of God and given the nature of God’s sons in the new birth (John 1:12-13). We were openly and manifestly declared to be the sons of God when we believed by faith in Christ. Our faith in Christ does not make us God’s sons. Adoption did that. Faith simply receives the adoption of sons and looks upon God through Christ as our Father (Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:15-16).

The sons of God are many, a great multitude which no man can number, ten thousand times ten thousand. They are the many chosen of God in electing love, -- the many for whom Christ gave his life a ransom, -- the many for whom his blood was shed for the remission of sins, -- the many made righteous by his obedience, -- the many for whom many mansions are prepared in the Father’s house. Of these many sons, John Gill wrote …

“God has chosen them ‘through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth’, to the obtaining of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ! Christ died for them, and by means of his death, they receive the promise of eternal inheritance, and the inheritance itself. God calls them by his grace to eternal glory, and makes them ‘meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.’”

The Person by whom God’s elect are brought to glory is Christ, the Captain of their salvation.” He is called “the Captain” of our salvation, because he is the One in charge of it, the One responsible for it, the One whose arm alone has accomplished it.

As the Captain of our salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ was made perfect through sufferings.” That is to say, the way, the means by which our great Savior saved us and perfected, or completed his work as the Captain of our salvation, was by his perfect sufferings and death as our Substitute. Apart from his sufferings for the satisfaction of justice there could have been no salvation. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered: And being made perfect, he became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9).

It was necessary for Christ to suffer and die on the cross, under the wrath of God, to save his people. I repeat -- he did not have to save us. But if he saved us, he could not save in any other way. Justice demanded it (Pro. 16:6; 17:15; Rom. 4:5; 1 Pet. 3:18). This is what the Spirit of God teaches us in Hebrews 2:9-10: Since it was the design, purpose, and pleasure of the Almighty to bring some of the sons of men into eternal glory and happiness as the sons of God by Christ, it was necessary for Christ, the Son of God, to suffer all that the law and justice of God required for the punishment of sin, dying under the wrath of God as our Substitute.

I do not say that the satisfaction of Christ procures the love of God for us. It does not. The death of Christ is the fruit of God’s love, not the cause of it. But I am saying that it is the death of Christ and the satisfaction of justice by his death that opens the way into the embraces of God’s arms. We could never have been reconciled to God without the shedding of Christ’s blood.

“Let me observe to you something relating to experience, which you would do well to lay up in your minds. It may be of use to you hereafter, when you may be tempted to doubt of your interest in Christ’s satisfaction. Have you any reason to believe that you have, at any time, had communion with God, in private or in public, in your closet, or in the family, or in the house of God, under any ordinance, either the ministry of the Word, or prayer, or the Supper of the Lord? Then you may be assured Christ has made satisfaction for you; or you would never have enjoyed such communion” (John Gill).


Let me summarize the teaching of Holy Scripture with regard to the satisfaction of Christ by making six statements about it. These six facts are both plainly revealed throughout the Scriptures and irrefutable.

1.      All men and women by nature, since the fall of our father Adam, are sinners, alienated from God.

“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). As sinners, we are alienated from the life of God and have become enemies unto God. The wages of our sin and enmity to God is death. Every transgression must receive its just recompense of reward (Heb. 2:2). All sin must be punished, either in the sinner or in the sinner’s Substitute. The law, being broken, accuses of sin, condemns the sinner, and demands death. Unless satisfaction is made, the sentence of the law must be executed. The sanction of the law is death. It can never be abrogated, changed, altered, or abated. God will never relax his justice. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die!” (Ezek. 18:2).

2.      Yet, it is the will of God to save sinners.

“He delighteth in mercy!” God has decreed the salvation of some. Christ came to save some. There are some people in this world that must be saved, because it is the will of God to save them; and God’s will cannot be frustrated (John 10:16). Every sinner chosen in eternal, electing love must be saved (2 Thess. 2:13-14). Every predestined son must be saved (Rom. 8:29-30). Every heir of the covenant must be saved (Eph. 1:3-7). Every child of Adam whose name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation of the world must be saved (Rev. 13:8). There is no possibility that even one of God’s elect will perish!

3.      However, it is impossible for a holy and just God to save any sinner apart from the satisfaction of justice (Heb. 9:22).

God declares, “I will by no means clear the guilty” (Ex. 34:7). Yes, God is omnipotent, almighty, and sovereign. He does what he will. I know of no one who declares that glorious truth more fully, more frequently, or more forcibly than I do. But God cannot do that which is contrary to his nature and character. We do not rob God of his sovereignty when we repeat the declaration of Scripture and say, “God cannot lie.” He who is the Truth cannot lie. Neither do we rob God of his sovereignty when we assert this truth of Holy Scripture -- God cannot forgive sin without the satisfaction of justice. The just, holy, and true God must punish sin.

4.      The only way the justice of God’s holy law and justice could ever be satisfied is by the substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ (Job 34:23; Rom. 3:24-26).

God could not die, and man could not satisfy; but the God-man both died and satisfied. Two facts demonstrate clearly that there was no other way for justice to be satisfied. Only the death of Christ upon the cross could do it.

The love of God the Father for his Son proves it. Would God almighty slay his darling Son, if there were any other way to save his people consistent with his justice? Would the Father sacrifice the Son in vain? Perish the thought! Yet, if righteousness could have come to sinners in any other way, then the Holy Spirit tells us plainly, that “Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21).

The prayer of Christ in Gethsemane proves the necessity of his satisfaction, too (Matt. 26:39). If the salvation of his people could be accomplished by any means other than his death upon the cross, would not God the Father have granted his tormented Son the desire of his soul?

What can justice satisfy?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

What can God’s law magnify?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Oh, precious is the flow,

That makes me white as snow!

No other fount I know,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

5.      It is impossible for God, in his holiness, to punish any sinner for whose sins justice has been satisfied by the blood of Christ (Isa. 53:11 Romans 7:14) - The law has no claim upon an executed felon.

Payment God cannot twice demand,

First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,

And then again at mine!

6.      Every sinner who trusts the Lord Jesus Christ has been chosen, redeemed, and called, and must be forever saved (Heb. 11:1).

Faith in Christ is the result of grace, not the cause of it. This God given faith is the evidence of election, redemption, and calling. If salvation and eternal life is promised to all who believe on the Son of God, and that salvation and eternal life comes only to chosen, redeemed sinners, called by the Spirit, then I must conclude that if I trust Christ, God the Father chose me from eternity, the Lord Jesus Christ died for me at Calvary, and the Spirit of God has called me by his almighty grace.

What a horrible evil sin is - Nothing but the blood of Christ could make satisfaction for it. God almighty must and will punish sin. The death of Christ as the sinner’s Substitute demonstrates the strictness of God’s holy law. Yet, there is a way open for sinners to come to God. Christ is the Way. He has made satisfaction for sin. If you trust him, if you come to God by faith in him, he made satisfaction for your sin.

Let us ever admire and adore the perfections of our God (Ps. 85:10-11). Admire his love. Adore his mercy. Rejoice in his grace. Stand in awe of his wisdom, holiness, justice, and truth. All shine forth gloriously in the satisfaction of Christ. -- “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Divine wisdom found a ransom for our souls in Christ. Holiness approved of it. Justice is satisfied with it. Truth proclaims it.

[1] The word “Unholy” in Hebrews 10:29, means “common”. Those who make the blood of Christ a common thing, without efficacy, without merit, are without hope. There is no other sacrifice for sin.