In a Princeton chapel sermon on Mark 10:45, Geerhardus Vos very well explained how Jesus’ entire life was aimed at the cross. As Vos said, “He took up the cross when he breathed the first breath of his earthly life.” Below is an edifying part of this outstanding sermon called “Christ’s Deliberate Work.” Notice how Vos ties in the aim of Christ’s life with the fact that the atonement was substitutionary. You may have to read it more than once!
“When it is said that the Son of Man came to minister, this form of statement makes the purpose of ministering cover his entire earthly life. Our Lord’s incarnate life not merely had this purpose among others, it had this purpose exclusively. It consisted in this – was exhausted by this. There was never in human history such an absolute concentration of life upon the single specific task as our Lord here and elsewhere ascribes to himself. Everything else for him was swallowed up in the one great intent to accomplish this ministry. All the forces of his life flowed into this.”
“Of course in this also there was something unique, something that can never be reproduced precisely in this form in the life of even the most consecrated servant of God. There was something absolutely unrepeatable in the manner in which our Lord made the sacrifice of his life redound to the service of others. He gave his life as a ransom in exchange for other lives. He died not merely for their benefit, but died in their place. This was a transaction which, strictly speaking, was possible to him alone. Others might minister unto death, or minister by their death, but no one else can minister through the payment of his death as a ransom in the literal, vicarious sense.”
rev shane lems
covenant presbyterian church (OPC)