Christ our Representative
Over the next four weeks I will be looking at a different aspect of Christ’s person and work in preparation for remembering Christ’s death and resurrection at Easter. Today we will look at Christ as our federal head, which simply means that Christ is our representative who acts on our behalf.
Generally speaking, most people think that all human beings are basically good. While this idea sounds very appealing to our easily offended and sensitive age, the Apostle Paul states otherwise. In his epistle to the Romans he lays out the proposition that every human being, except Jesus Christ, is by nature unrighteous, guilty and under God’s judgement. Paul concludes that “all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin” (Rom 3:9).
Our plight can be traced back to one source, Adam, who stands as the representative of all humanity throughout every age and place in the world. This means that the ramifications of Adam’s actions flow to all. By Adam’s disobedience to God’s command, he brought death and judgement upon every person (Rom 5:12). The technical term for this is imputation. Adam’s guilt has been imputed to you.
I hear someone objecting, “That is not fair! Why am I punished for Adam’s sin?”. That is a real and important objection, but at the root of it lies the belief that you and I would have acted differently if placed in Adam’s position. That is unlikely if we honestly look at our own life. We have spent our lives demonstrating with our sinfulness that Adam’s apple didn’t fall far from the tree. This means that guilt imputed to us in Adam is actually unnecessary to condemn you. We have enough guilt of our own. We are in deep, deep trouble!
But, and this is a big BUT, it is not the end of the story. Paul continues on to tell us that the free gift of grace has abounded to many through one man, Jesus Christ (Rom 5:15). This one man is known as the second Adam who now stands as the representative of all those who receive Him by faith (Rom 5:17). So, in similar manner to Adam, Christ stands as His people’s representative who acts on their behalf. However, instead of imputing guilt and judgement, Christ imputes righteousness. How? By perfectly obeying the Law, which we have broken, and dying on the cross as penalty for our sin, fully satisfying God’s just demands.
It is because of this we can say, not with a clenched fist, but with outstretched arms of praise and thanks, “That is not fair!”. The gospel is good news because it grants us what we do not deserve. We deserve everlasting judgment. But God in mercy grants us Christ’s perfect obedience, righteousness, and everlasting love. No wonder Paul said, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal 6:14).
If you are in Christ, His life and death have become yours. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). Now that is something to be thankful for!
Pastor Craig Baxter