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Baseball Illustrates Christ as Substitute and Representative

On the Cross, Jesus was both our substitute and a representative. Here are two analogies to unpack what that means.

A substitute is someone who takes the place of another person but does not represent that person. For example, a pinch hitter in baseball enters the lineup to bat in the place of another player. He is a substitute for that player, but in no sense represents the other player.

On the other hand, a simple representative acts on behalf of another person, and serves as his spokesman but he’s not a substitute for that person. For example, a baseball player has an agent who represents him in contract negotiations with the team. The representative does not replace the player but merely advocates for him.

These roles can be combined. Here’s an illustration of both.

If you’re a shareholder for the company, and you can’t attend the shareholders meeting, you can sign an agreement authorizing someone else to serve as your proxy at the meeting. That person will vote for you, and because they have been authorized to do so, their votes are your votes. You have voted via proxy at the meeting of shareholders. The proxy is a substitute in that they attend the meeting in our place, but they are also a representative in that they do not vote instead of us, but on our behalf, so that we vote.

In bearing our punishment, Jesus was both our substitute and a representative before God. He was punished in our place and bore the suffering we deserved. But he also represented us before God, so that his punishment was our punishment.

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