Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  – Hebrews 2:17

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever….15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,

“You are a priest forever,
    after the order of Melchizedek.”… Hebrews 7:1-3,15-17

 22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant…25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself… Hebrews 7:22, 25-27

12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. – Hebrews 9:12-14

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— Galatians 3:13

 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. – Romans 4:23-25

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8

Last week I wrote about Christ’s High Priestly role fulfilling all of God’s law through his perfect obedience thus becoming righteous. This was his work which is credited to us through faith, and we are given his righteousness. The other part of his High Priestly work was to suffer the penalty of sin for us and thus secure the legal basis for our forgiveness.

The entirety of the life of Jesus Christ is substitutionary. He lived a perfectly sinless, righteous life so his earned righteousness could be substituted for our unrighteous lives. His death, the death of a sinless man who, being sinless, did not deserve death, was substituted for our death. His death in our place earned our forgiveness. When we grasp the fact that our salvation is all a matter of his record being substituted for our record, it begins to become clear why salvation is and must be all of grace and not any meritorious work on our part. Our best work is tainted with our sin. His work is pure and sinless and capable of earning eternal life.

It seems odd writing about earning eternal life. We can’t earn it, but Christ did, and then he gave it to us; we who are so undeserving.

As we are approaching Easter Sunday, it is entirely appropriate to focus some of our attention on the glorious and meritorious work of Jesus Christ which provides for our forgiveness and whose record of perfection is granted to us when we believe the gospel.