Our Substitute

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All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).

Many years ago I remember a man testifying that he had listened to many sermons, but did not become a Christian as a result of hearing them. Then he visited a church and listened to a simple sermon regarding the cross and the crucifixion of Jesus. This is the sermon that touched him deeply and persuaded him to give his life to the Lord.

Could it be that we have- at times- moved away from the simplest, yet most powerful doctrine of the Bible? The Apostle Paul stated it this way, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:1-2). Paul, a highly educated man, chose not to dazzle the people with flamboyant words. He simply wanted to preach Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ crucified.

Why is the crucifixion of Jesus so important? Among the reasons we can name, there is one we seem to forget at times. That reason is the fact that Jesus was our substitute. Years ago, gospel music itself often alluded to this truth.

I understand that I am really dating myself- telling my age- but that is alright with me. As a child, I remember singing various songs out of the hymnal. Oh, more memorable songs like “ Amazing Grace,” “ Leaning On the Everlasting Arms” and “ I’ll Fly Away” were in that hymnal. However, “He Bore it All,” a lesser known song became etched in my memory. One line in that song says, “I was condemned to die, but Jesus took my place.” Think of how powerful those words are.

“I Should Have Been Crucified,” written by Gordon Jensen in the 1960s, is another song that follows this line of thought. One line in the song says, “I should have hung on that cross in disgrace, but Jesus, God’s Son, took my place.” This is a great reminder of the fact we are the ones who have sinned. It is also a reminder that Jesus took our place and paid the price for us so we can obtain forgiveness.

Sermons dealing with joy, peace, victory, etc., are needed. However, now and then we need reminded of how much we really need Jesus. Without Him substituting Himself for us, joy, peace, victory- forgiveness itself would elude us. We must continue to be thankful that Jesus is our substitute.


Dave Snyder is an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God – Cleveland, Tennessee. Before entering the ministry on a full-time basis, he was a school teacher. He also coached middle school basketball for eight years.

Dave and his wife, Sara, have two children  — Craig and Karen. They also have one ten year old granddaughter  — Breanna. 

Dave and Sara pastored in West Virginia for thirty-six years. Sara is now retired from the banking industry, and Dave is retired from pastoring. However, Dave currently serves as prison Chaplain for the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

Writing essays, articles, and devotionals is a real passion for Dave. He also enjoys playing musical instruments and singing.

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