There is no greater melding of judgment and mercy than the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Standing alone in its glory and significance, no judgment has ever accomplished God’s justice, nor dispensed His wrath, like the cross. And yet neither has any judgment ever expressed God’s mercy, or presented His salvation, like the cross.
God’s justice demanded a penalty, so Jesus took that penalty on our behalf representing all of sinful humankind before the Lord (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). Behold the cross! God’s massive judgment against an entire race. But behold His mercy! As the ultimate man, if the suffering servant’s death absorbed God’s judgment against humanity, then His resurrected life would effectively renew all who would believe. So, when we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for ourselves, God does more than forgive us, He renews us with a whole new kind of life, and we become a new creation.
Here we see the unparalleled glory and wisdom of the cross. It combines God’s perfect justice with His perfect mercy. On the cross, God satisfied His own righteous nature by judging the sins of humanity. At the same time, He satisfied His own mercy by liberating everyone who believes. There is no religion or philosophy that compares to the wisdom and power of the cross! No other ideology could so completely deal with the depths of sin, so perfectly fulfill the demands of justice, and so wonderfully show mercy to sinners by offering them a whole new life — all in the same act!