“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”—Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)
Does the life Christ lived matter? Why did He have to live for 33 years? Couldn’t He just come, die and resurrect in one day? We usually love to talk about Christ’s cross and blood, but we never give that much credence to the life that led to that death and resurrection.
Does it matter then? I’d say a big yes. When we talk about Christ’s atoning work, we should never separate His life from his death and resurrection. They are one package, so to speak.
You see, the real question is this: When you sin after becoming a Christian, what happens to you? Do you become a Christian again? Do you get baptised again? The answer is no! As a Christian, you are not justified by the imperfect life you live rather by Jesus’s perfect life lived for you. His life becomes yours in salvation.
What happens when you can’t resist temptation? Christ’s obedience in the wilderness becomes your obedience. What happens when you can’t submit to the will of the Father? Jesus’s submission, even to the point of death becomes yours. What about when you seek retribution? Jesus’s perfect love, even dying for those who crucified Him is credited to you in through faith alone.
That is the point. When God looks at a Christian (one who has staked their life on Christ’s life, death, and resurrection), He sees only Jesus’s perfect life as their own. In justification, our sinful life is imputed to Christ while His sinless life is imputed to us. Therefore, the goal is never to do more or try harder but to remember who we already are in Jesus Christ.
“Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
the slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered.
For our atonement, while we nothing heeded,
God interceded.”—Johann Heermann