- God is a perfect Judge and cannot let any wrong doing go unpunished. Nevertheless, God unlimited in his love. When we humans regularly sin, God is faced with a dilemma. He has to punish every sin, or else he is an imperfect Judge. Nevertheless, God wants to show mercy to every human, or else he would no longer be unlimited in love. God resolves this dilemma by become human and allowing himself to be punished instead of us. He took the punishment for our sins by being crucified as a man.
- Jesus (like Adam) is a representative for the entire human race. When he sacrifices himself, he provides forgiveness to the human race (or at least those who accept him as a representative).
- The arrangement is similar to if you committed a crime, and you received a very large fine as a result. Imagine that the judge issuing the fine were to pay it for you, at great cost to himself. This is very similar to what Jesus did when he died on the cross, paying the penalty for our sins.
- My uncle (an attorney) told me that an analogy in our legal system is that of "vicarious liability." This means that a "senior" person can hold themselves liable for the actions of the "junior" in the relationship. For example, employers are liable for the actions of employees. This is analogous to Jesus dying on the cross, where he voluntarily holds himself liable for our actions.
(Thanks to my uncle Kurt Anderson for some of the information in this post.)