“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18, NIV).
Suffering is often synonymous with sacrifice. The sacrificial systems of the Old Testament involved the slaughter of animals as a way of atonement for the sins of the people. The offering-up of one’s livestock was not only emotionally burdensome, but a financial sacrifice. The limitation to these sacrifices was that they had to be repeated time and again, because people continued to sin.
The author of Hebrews makes a statement similar to that found in the verse above, that “…Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many…” (Hebrews 9:28, NIV). “Many” doesn’t imply that Jesus’ sacrifice atoned for the sins of some, or even most, people. Rather, “many” means that Jesus’ death paid for the sins of all people. Further, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was a “…once for all…” sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27, NIV). It doesn’t need to be repeated again and again.
Jesus died, “…the righteous for the unrighteous…” (1 Peter 3:18, NIV), so that we as sinners would live eternally. We are declared just and stand redeemed before him. What great news this is for each of us!