A substitute is when one person or thing stands in place of another, but that which stands in place must meet specific criteria:
First, the substitute must be similar to the original.
Let's put this to the test: What replaces a burned out lightbulb? Something made of glass with a threaded end that can be screwed into the socket. A condiment bottle (though made of glass with a threaded end) will not work because it is NOT similar to the original.What replaces a flat tire? Another tire, right? Why won't a cinder block work? Because it is not similar to the original. The acceptable replacement must be similar to the original.
Jesus qualifies as our substitute because He was fully human.
- "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
- “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, [and] coming in the likeness of men.” (Phil 2:6-8)
A substitute is necessary because something different is required from the original. For example, we don’t replace burned out bulbs with burned out light bulbs nor do we replace a flat tire with a flat tire.
- “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)
- “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Pe 2:22)
But meeting the first two requirements is not enough:
The substitute must actually be put in the place of the original.
A burned out bulb doesn't work, neither does a good one in the box on the shelf. The old must be removed, then replaced. The spare tire must be taken out of the trunk and fastened.
Jesus qualifies as our substitute. He said something that could only be said as a substitute, of one bearing the sins of others “My God, my God; why have you forsaken Me?” (Mt 27:46)
Take some time to let that sink in.