Our redemption is trinitarian, meaning that redemption is not just a work of the Father, but of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. The Father planned redemption, the Son purchased redemption, and the Spirit applies redemption.
When it comes to Christ, we are right to speak often of his atoning death. He willingly substituted himself on our behalf that we might take on his righteousness. We often speak of why Christ died; but why did Christ live?
Did Jesus just live to prepare himself to die? Why did he need to experience childhood? Adolescence? Why did he not need to experience other things, like marriage and childrearing?
And of course, how was Jesus able to live a sinless life? Did he just have that much more willpower than me?
Clearly some of those questions are more important than others, and the Confession helps us understand the Scriptures on the weightier matters. Jesus lived a righteous life that his sinlessness might be counted to us, and he did so in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Confession begins by saying, “The Lord Jesus, in his human nature thus united to the divine, in the person of the Son, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure, having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;”
Acts 10:38 says, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
Peter is referring to what took place at Jesus’s baptism. When Peter is speaking to Cornelius in Acts 10, he is placing Jesus’s anointing after the time that John the Baptist began his ministry and directly before Jesus began his.
During the overlap of John the Baptist and Jesus, there were those why tried to pit one against the other. John dissolves any notion that he is better than Jesus, and he famously says, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Immediately after, John the apostle comments on what John the Baptist has just said, saying, “For he whom God has sent utters the the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure” (3:34). When John bore witness to Jesus, he recognized that the Spirit was at work in him.
While on the earth, Jesus Christ lived a sinless life and fulfilled all of his redemptive obligations in the power of the Spirit. And as if God would withhold any good thing from us, we now live in the power of the same Spirit. As Paul tells us in Romans 8:11, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
The Confession goes to say of Christ in the flesh, “in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, to the end that being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, he might be throughly furnished to execute the office of mediator and surety;”
The apostle Paul is bursting with praise about the eternal Son when he writes, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).
There was nothing un-Godlike about Christ. Even in the flesh, he remained God, without any violence or negative effect to his divinity. Because he was divine, and because in his flesh he ministered in the power of the Spirit, Jesus Christ was worthy to be our substitute. His sinlessness made him able to stand in our place, because he was without blemish or spot. Only a sinless, living substitute would be worth sacrificing. As a sinful creature, I cannot die an atoning death for anyone else, because I bring my own sins to the altar. Not so with Christ Jesus.
The whole creation is under a curse, which is the consequence of the first sin. Paul writes in Romans 8:20-21, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
Christ substituted himself for us, but in that substitution he reconciled the cosmos that had been “subjected to futility,” or cursed, because of the entrance of sin into the human realm. And it was in this perfection of his righteousness that he was an able “mediator and surety.”
The Confession continues, “which office he took not upon himself, but was thereunto called by his Father; who also put all power and judgement in his hand, and gave him commandment to execute the same.”
We see here again notes of the covenant of redemption. Christ did not decide in himself to redeem fallen creatures, but he was called by his Father to do so. But in calling the Son to redeem creation, he also gave the Son the Spirit, as well as authority to judge.
There is an unbreakable line between the Father and the Son. As John says, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (5:21-23).
In his first coming, he came to save. In his second, he will come to judge the living and the dead. And next week, we’ll see how not only did the Father call the Son to take up the redemption of our souls, but he did so willingly and joyfully.