You will miss the cross of Christ if you fail to understand that Jesus died on the cross as a substitute for sinners.
Substitution is an absolutely essential concept in Jesus' death. If you think that the Lord merely died as an example of bravery in the face of suffering, or if you think that the Lord died as a martyr to bear witness to a system of truth you miss the real message of the cross of Christ.
The Bible clearly states that Jesus died as a substitutionary lamb in the place of sinful men and women:
Isaiah stated, "He was wounded for our transgressions” (Isa. 53:5).
The apostle John stated, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away [or beareth away] the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
The apostle Paul stated, "Christ died for us” [in our place] (Romans 5:8). This was God's way of meeting His own high standard of holiness and yet treat guilty sinners with 100% mercy.
Some may ask, How can substitutionary death be acceptable to God? In civil law, a man may not take the penalty of a crime for his brother and go to jail in his place, nor may he take his place in death.
No, that cannot be in civil law. But when Christ came into the world He came as the representative man for His people. He is the federal head of God’s people to fulfil every covenant engagement for them.
That was the contract that His Father made with Him in the covenant of grace. On the behalf of sinners, the Lord Jesus was obedient unto death to fulfil all righteousness for them. He lived, suffered and died in their place.
Salvation by substitution is God’s most merciful plan and it makes the cross of Christ a beautiful thing in a believer's eyes. To be able to say, “Jesus died for me,” brings heaven into the soul.
Can you say that? Do you know that Jesus died in your place? Are you rejoicing in the truth that God punished His Son in your place, so you will go free and be fitted for heaven? There is no sweeter story than to know that Christ died as your substitute.