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Is the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus unjust ?

Often times its heard from the muslim brethren that what we Christians have in our scriptures, i.e the plan of atonement or Jesus’ sacrifice for the sins of the whole humanity cannot be just for Jesus Christ being innocent should have not carry the burden of sins.

Frankly speaking , they are correct in a nutshell since the Holy Bible too says :-

“Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.” Deuteronomy 24:16;NKJV

But despite of all this, why do we finds an innocent or sinless Jesus Christ taking the burdens of humanity’s sins upon Himself ? The Holy Bible makes it clear that :-

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7;NKJV

The Characteristics of love are cited in the above passage that it suffers long, bears all things and endures all things. And this same attribute of God (all loving) drove Him to send His Son Jesus Christ into the world so that He may liberate the mankind from their sins by suffering in their stead for the scripture says :-

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17; RSV

Before moving further, I would like to highlight a few illustrations of God’s infinite love for a sinful human man. The scripture says :-

“ When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son. 
As they called them,
So they went from them; 
They sacrificed to the Baals, 
And burned incense to carved images

“ I taught Ephraim to walk, 
Taking them by their arms;
But they did not know that I healed them. 
I drew them with gentle cords, 
With bands of love, 
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.

I stooped and fed them. 
“ He shall not return to the land of Egypt; 
But the Assyrian shall be his king, 
Because they refused to repent. 
And the sword shall slash in his cities, 
Devour his districts, 
And consume them,
Because of their own counsels. 
My people are bent on backsliding from Me. 
Though they call to the Most High, 
None at all exalt Him.
“ How can I give you up, Ephraim? 
How can I hand you over, Israel? 
How can I make you like Admah? 
How can I set you like Zeboiim? 
My heart churns within Me; 
My sympathy is stirred. 
I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; 
I will not again destroy Ephraim. 
For I am God, and not man, 
The Holy One in your midst; 
And I will not come with terror.
” Hosea 11:1-9 NKJV

God’s love for Israel is depicted in the passage above where He despite of their sins against Himself loves them. He says that His love for Israel is restricting Him from bringing judgment upon them and this very passage corroborates the writings of the blessed apostle Paul when He says that love endures all things, bears all things and suffers long as what we have seen earlier.

Likewise the inspired writer of Psalm (David) says :-

“ Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 

The LORD executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy
.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him
;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear Him
.” Psalm 103:1-13;NKJV

The Psalmist is revealing God’s infinite mercy and love for His Creation (human being). He is so gracious and loving that He is compelled by these attributes of Himself not to punish the humans for their iniquities or sins instead He lays aside our transgressions and bestows His mercy upon us.


Even the prophet of Islam too stated once :-

“ The Messenger of God (may peace be upon him) said: 
'When Allah decreed the Creation He pledged Himself by writing in His book which is laid down with Him: My mercy prevails over my wrath.'
The above hadith was related by Muslim (also by al-Bukhari, an-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah)” 

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“Abu Huraira reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: When Allah created the creation as He was upon the Throne, He put down in His Book: Verily, My mercy predominates My wrath.” Sahih Muslim ;Book no 37; Hadeeth No 6626

” Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said: My mercy excels My wrath.” Sahih Muslim; Book No 37; Hadeeth No 6627

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These are hadiths qudsi, i.e the hadeeths which contains the words of Allah narrated by the prophet of Islam.

Hence both the Christianity and Islam agrees on the issue of God’s mercy being superior to His Wrath.

Now comes the justice part. But what God could have done being moved by His immense love and mercy for mankind to save them from their sins? He could not have forgiven them just for grant because if He is merciful, loving and compassionate yet at the same time is just as well and being just, He is also supposed to execute judgment apart from pardoning the sins of humanity.

And the only way through which He could have exercised both these attributes or characteristics of Himself, i.e merciful and just is only by laying the sins of humanity upon someone who had to be innocent or blameless or sinless.

Now why it is necessary that a person who is supposed to bear the burdens of the sins of humanity must be sinless or innocent? It is because according to the word of God:-

“Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.” Deuteronomy 24:16;NKJV

One can deduce from the above the following:-

(1) Fathers shall not be put to death for their children’s sins.
(2) Children should not put to death for their fathers’ sins.
(3) Every person should be put to death for his own sin only.

Therefore a sinner cannot bear or could not bear the sins of another sinner and every man is a sinner from his birth as the Psalmist (David) too says :-

“ Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness; 
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, 
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin


For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight— 
That You may be found just when You speak, 
And blameless when You judge. 

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me
.” Psalm 51:1-5;NKJV

Firstly he begs for God’s mercy by the virtue of His loving kindness and mercy then further depicts himself to be a sinner thereby praying to Almighty to set him free from his sins. After that, he is confessing his transgressions before the Lord and at last that he inherited a sinful nature in himself from his mother’s womb only.

And this idea is supported by one of the sayings of the prophet of Islam when he stated :-

“It is narrated in a hadith that Sayyidina Rasulullah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:
"Every son of Adam is a sinner, and the best of sinners are those who repent constantly".
Ibn Majah, Tirmizi, Darimi (p. 760 Al Hadis, Vol. 3 Fazul Karim)” 

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Narrated by Muslim, 2749. And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Every son of Adam sins, and the best of those who sin are those who repent.”

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Therefore if any man cannot be punished for another man’s sins (apart from his own sin), hence there left only one way through which God could have exhibited His mercy and justice in this realm and that is to place the sins of the sinners (whole humanity) upon someone who was sinless or innocent. And no one could have a sacrifice here with the exception of Jesus Christ since He was sinless both from the Christian as well Islamic perspective :-

Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?”John (8:46);NKJV

He challenges the Jewish Pharisees to find a guilt in Himself and these words of Him itself gives the idea that He was sinless.

The blessed apostle Paul says :- 

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”2 Corinthians 5:21 ;NKJV

And prophet Isaiah too foretold of Christ’s sufferings for the sins of the people almost 700 years before Christ’s time :-

Surely He has borne our griefs 
And carried our sorrows; 
Yet we esteemed Him stricken, 
Smitten by God, and afflicted. 
But He was wounded for our transgressions, 
He was bruised for our iniquities

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, 
And by His stripes we are healed. 
All we like sheep have gone astray; 
We have turned, every one, to his own way; 
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, 
Yet He opened not His mouth; 
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, 
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, 
So He opened not His mouth. 
He was taken from prison and from judgment, 
And who will declare His generation? 
For He was cut off from the land of the living; 
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
 
And they made His grave with the wicked— 
But with the rich at His death, 
Because He had done no violence, 
Nor was any deceit in His mouth. 
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; 
He has put Him to grief. 
When You make His soul an offering for sin

He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, 
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. 
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. 
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, 
For He shall bear their iniquities
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, 
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, 
Because He poured out His soul unto death, 
And He was numbered with the transgressors, 
And He bore the sin of many, 
And made intercession for the transgressors.
” Isaiah 53:4-12 ;NKJV

Note :- There is a concept that this passage isn’t messianic rather its referring to the nation of Israel but none of the Jewish clergy men before 11th Century interpreted this for Israel. Its only Rabbi Rashi and other later rabbis started interpreting this for Israel. Have a look at a refutation to this deliberate misinterpretation in the following link :-

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There wasn’t anything wrong in Him yet it pleased God to give His Son as a ransom for the sins of the people (See Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).

And the prophet Daniel too says :-

“ Seventy weeks are determined 
For your people and for your holy city, 
To finish the transgression, 
To make an end of sins, 
To make reconciliation for iniquity
To bring in everlasting righteousness, 
To seal up vision and prophecy, 
And to anoint the Most Holy. 
“ Know therefore and understand, 
That from the going forth of the command 
To restore and build Jerusalem 
Until Messiah the Prince, 
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; 
The street shall be built again, and the wall, 
Even in troublesome times. 
“ And after the sixty-two weeks 
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself
And the people of the prince who is to come 
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. 
The end of it shall be with a flood, 
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.” Daniel 9:24-26 ; NKJV

Both the prophets Isaiah and Daniel says of Messiah being cut off or to die for the transgressions of the people. Daniel explicitly states that He will be cut off BUT NOT FOR HIMSELF but to reconcile mankind to God as man went away from God because of his sin.

Now coming back on the actual issue, if a sinner may bear the sins of humanity, then God’s love and mercy could not be justified or accomplish fully for the humanity because in that case the one who will suffer for the whole mankind will be spared from receiving the love and mercy of God which is for the whole humanity and that includes the person too who is suffering for mankind.

So in order for God’s loving tender mercy be accomplished completely for the whole human race, it required that the sins of the humanity may be placed upon someone who is sinless and that is what God did when He let an innocent one (Jesus Christ) to bear the sins of us thereby manifesting His loving nature by sparing us from getting punished for our sins and also exhibited His just nature at the same time by executing judgment by punishing sin in the body of Christ.

Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice can also be comprehend by an illustration of a culprit being freed from imprisonment on behalf of a bail given by someone for him (Culprit). Here bail can be compared to Christ’s blood that He shed on the cross for the redemption of human race (for us who are the culprits) here.

Conclusively, God not only met His loving nature here when He spared us from receiving penalty of our sins but also His just nature when He punished the sins of us in the body of Christ (Romans 8:3)

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