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Catechism of the Catholic Church

II. CHRIST'S REDEMPTIVE DEATH IN GOD'S PLAN OF SALVATION

"Jesus handed over according to the definite plan of God"

599 Jesus' violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God's plan, as St. Peter explains to the Jews of Jerusalem in his first sermon on Pentecost: "This Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God." 393 This Biblical language does not mean that those who handed him over were merely passive players in a scenario written in advance by God. 394

600 To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of "predestination", he includes in it each person's free response to his grace: "In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." 395 For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness. 396

"He died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures"

601 The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting to death of "the righteous one, my Servant" as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin. 397 Citing a confession of faith that he himself had "received", St. Paul professes that "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures." 398 In particular Jesus' redemptive death fulfils Isaiah's prophecy of the suffering Servant. 399 Indeed Jesus himself explained the meaning of his life and death in the light of God's suffering Servant. 400 After his Resurrection he gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles. 401

"For our sake God made him to be sin"

602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: "You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers... with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake." 402 Man's sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death. 403 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God "made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 404

603 Jesus did not experience reprobation as if he himself had sinned. 405 But in the redeeming love that always united him to the Father, he assumed us in the state of our waywardness of sin, to the point that he could say in our name from the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 406 Having thus established him in solidarity with us sinners, God "did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all", so that we might be "reconciled to God by the death of his Son". 407

God takes the initiative of universal redeeming love

604 By giving up his own Son for our sins, God manifests that his plan for us is one of benevolent love, prior to any merit on our part: "In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins." 408 God "shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." 409

605 At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God's love excludes no one: "So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." 410 He affirms that he came "to give his life as a ransom for many"; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us. 411 The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer." 412

Notes:

393 Acts 2:23.

394 Cf. Acts 3:13.

395 Acts 4:27-28; cf. Ps 2:1-2.

396 Cf. Mt 26:54; Jn 18:36; 19:11; Acts 3:17-18.

397 Isa 53:11; cf. 53:12; Jn 8:34-36; Acts 3:14.

398 1 Cor 15:3; cf. also Acts 3:18; 7:52; 13:29; 26:22-23.

399 Cf. Isa 53:7-8 and Acts 8:32-35.

400 Cf. Mt 20:28.

401 Cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-45.

402 I Pt 1:18-20.

403 Cf. Rom 5:12; I Cor 15:56.

404 2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3.

405 Cf. Jn 8:46.

406 Mk 15:34; Ps 22:2; cf. Jn 8:29.

407 Rom 8:32; 5:10.

408 I John 4:10; 4:19.

409 Rom 5:8.

410 Mt 18:14.

411 Mt 20:28; cf. Rom 5:18-19.

412 Council of Quiercy (853): DS 624; cf. 2 Cor 5:15; I Jn 2:2.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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