And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6
Suppose you go out for a meal with a friend, and when you are done eating, the waiter brings the bill. You say, “Let me take care of that.”
And your friend says, “No, I’d be glad to do it.”
You know what this is like. You take out your wallet. Your friend fumbles around looking for his. That’s an old trick, by the way. Look first in all the wrong pockets for your wallet, and by the time you get it out, the other person has already grabbed the bill.
Either way, the bill is on the table, and it is going to be charged to (imputed to) one of you. Someone is going to pay for it, either it will be on your card, or it will be on his.
God has taken all that would have been charged to us and charged it to Jesus instead. This is what it meant for Jesus to become our substitute: God laid our sins on Him.
To help us grasp this, God has given a powerful visual aid in the Old Testament. On the Day of Atonement, God’s people gathered outside the tent of meeting. A live goat was to be brought out to the high priest, and then God says:
Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people… all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness. (Lev. 16:21-22)
Do you see the language of transfer? God says that sins are being taken from one place and moved to another. They are being taken from the people and put on the goat.
What the High Priest did on the Day of Atonement is a picture of what God Himself has done: “The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
What if God hadn’t laid your sins on Jesus?