Reading: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us[a] to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:18
When John Huss was being put to death he was led to the suburbs of Constance to be burned at the stake. When he reached the place, wearing the paper “cap of blaspheme,” he fell on his knees and began to chant Psalm 31. He looked steadfastly towards heaven and chanted verse 5: “Into thy hands, O Lord! Do I commit my spirit; Thou hast redeemed me, O most good and faithful God.” When he finished quoting those words his persecutors put a chain around his waist and tied him to the stake. Huss responded to the chain with these words: “My Lord Jesus Christ was bound with a harder chain than this for my sake; why then should I be ashamed of this old rusty one?”
It is good to understand what John Huss was saying. In the midst of fierce and fatal persecution he lifted his thoughts heavenward and contemplated the greater suffering Christ had endured for him. Christ’s sufferings were greater because He died the just for the unjust, or the sinless for the sinful. These words present a glorious description of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is meek, loving, gracious, gentle, merciful, and true, but He is also just or perfectly righteous. He is the just One. This terms refers to Christ’s impeccability, His inability to sin. There was no sin in Him. He knew no sin. He could do no sin. He is the just and righteous Saviour. Yet Christ died for His people.
As the popular hymn puts it, “He took my sins and my sorrows and made them His very own. He bore the burden to Calvary and suffered and died alone.” Christ had no sin of His own, but He became the substitute of His people, and, bearing their shame and sin, He laid down His life. He died the just for the unjust. Christ’s death was voluntary. He offered Himself to God. No man took His life from Him; He laid it down voluntarily. His death was also a victorious one. Remember Christ died the just for the unjust to bring us to God. A dead Saviour could not bring a dead sinner to God. But Christ rose again and now lives in the power of an endless life; therefore He has the ability and the authority to give life, abundant spiritual life to those who are spiritually dead. He brings us to God. We live because Christ died.
“From the most ignominious sufferings, we see the most glorious triumphs emerge; and from the most dreadful of deaths, a divine and never-fading life arise.” (F. W. Krummacher, The Suffering Saviour, 3)