Pierced for our Transgressions

Easter is early this year, coming on the last day of March. As we begin to prepare our hearts and minds to remember the sacrifice of Christ on Good Friday and to celebrate His victory over the grave on Resurrection Sunday, I thought it would be good to recommend some reading on this subject.

For this book recommendation, I will highlight two volumes. Both address the subject of penal substitution. Although that is not a term we use often, it is the central message of the cross.

Jesus’ death was penal, meaning that on the cross He paid the penalty for sin. The penalty was more than physical death. He also experienced the curse of sin, bearing in His body God’s just wrath aroused by sin.

Jesus did this as our substitute. His did not die for sins He committed, and He did not earn the wrath He bore. He acted as our substitute. He hung on the cross in our place, taking our punishment and bearing our sin so that we could be reconciled to God.

This is the central message, not just of the cross but of the entire Bible. It is what we remember (the sacrifice) and celebrate (the victory) during the Easter season.

The two books I am recommending this month focus on this subject. The first is called In My Place Condemned He Stood. This is the easier to read of the two. It functions like a beginner’s primer on the doctrine of penal substitution. In the back of the book is a list of further reading you can do on the subject if something within the volume piques your interest.

The second book is a little more academic. It is called Pierced for our Transgressions. I was introduced to this book while in seminary. It was one of my favorite books I read during that season of life. This title handles the subject of penal substitution much more thoroughly than In My Place Condemned He Stood. It traces the case of this doctrine from the Old Testament, through the Gospels, and into the Epistles, presenting a full biblical picture. Although it is a much more detailed presentation, it is still readable and understandable.

Whether you make use of one of these books or do something else to draw your mind to Christ this Easter season, my prayer is that God would impress upon us afresh the horror of the cross and the glory of the empty tomb. More than that, I pray that we would be drawn into deeper love for the One who was pierced for our transgressions, and that this love would increase our zeal to make Him known to a lost world all around us.