“and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:24–25, NASB95)
In 1 Corinthians 15 we read, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4, NASB95) Paul said the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ was the message of “first importance.” This is the priority truth. Jesus did exactly what the Scriptures told us He would do, all according to what God had called Him to do. It was prophesied and it was fulfilled. It is the foundational truth of the gospel.
Jesus “bore our sins in His body on the cross.” He did not use a proxy bull or a lesser emissary. God the Father sent God the Son to take upon His own body our sins. Scripture declares that the sacrifices of the Old Testament were inadequate. It declares that the efforts of man are in vain. There is absolutely nothing we can or ever could do to save ourselves from our sins. God is absolutely perfect, and His standard is perfection. Jesus Christ, being God, brought the perfection of God to the cross for us to pay the perfect price for our sins. He is the only sacrifice that is acceptable, and He willingly sacrificed Himself for us. Yes, man may have done the work to accuse Him and nail Him in place, but man could not have done this apart from it being the plan of God who determined it would happen this way from the foundation of the earth.
God’s purpose in this was not simply forgiveness, but restoration. We read that by His wounds that we have been healed. Jesus paid a great price for us. He suffered intense beatings and an excruciating death for us. Being healed means that we have been made whole. We’ve been cured. We have been made right with God. Man (Adam and Eve) was originally created without sin for a relationship with God. But by his sin man became separated from God and a slave to sin. Christ came to free us from this slavery of sin and restore us to righteousness accompanied with righteous living. Being made righteous with the righteousness of Christ, we are now called to live according to the righteousness which we see evidenced in the life of Christ. We’ve been changed and we are called to live as changed people.
Peter went on to write, “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” Man has a long record of doing as he pleased as if sheep without a shepherd. We read this in the words of Judges multiple times that the people were without a king and that they did as they pleased. These words even mark the last words of the book, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25, NASB95) But the next words in the order that our Bibles have been but together are found in the book of Ruth where we read, “Now it came about in the days when the judges governed….” In this little book of Ruth we learn about a straying widow with her daughter-in-law, Ruth, returning to her home land to then taste the redeeming work of God in the most incredible way. God gave these women Boaz and Obed, and God has given us all His Son, Jesus, to bring us back to Him and to be our Shepherd and Guardian of our souls.
God did more than save us. He brought us into the fold of His Son where His Son loves and tends to us. He is our Shepherd and He has been entrusted by the Father to be our Guardian. He is given full charge over us and He is faithful to that charge. He will tend to us. Even in His physical absence as He returned to the Father, the Father has sent the Spirit to be in us to bring about this very thing. What we are called to do is listen to His voice and follow in His steps. He will not fail.
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” (John 10:11–18, NASB95)
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27–30, NASB95)