Can a person atone for another persons sin?

The Christian view is yes, because Jesus died and atoned for everybody’s sin on the cross. However the Jewish view is very contrary to this thought.

I will present a very brief explanation of the Christian belief on the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. This doctrine probably is most substantiated in Hebrews chapters 8 & 9. Christianity teaches that prior to Jesus, sins were forgiven only by the “shedding of blood”, by sacrificing certain animals as described in the Bible. After Jesus, animal sacrifice is no longer required, because Jesus was sacrificed instead of an animal on a cross. Because he was sacrificed to atone for sin, and shed blood, animal sacrifices are no longer needed for sins to be forgiven. The belief is that because of everybody’s sin, all should die and shed blood to atone for their sin. The animal sacrifice is used in place of the person being put to death. Jesus did this once and for all for everybody’s sin and he became a substitute, 1 Pet 3:18, 1 Pet 2:24. However the person must believe that Jesus is the messiah or christ and high priest to have his sins forgiven or he is doomed for hell. There are various versions of this doctrine depending on the denomination of Christianity, I have only given a brief description of the basic doctrine.

In Judaism everybody is responsible for their own sin. No one can take the place for anther’s sin. Each person is responsible before Hashem for their obedience to Him. The shedding of blood is not required for forgiveness. If somebody does sin, there are three methods of atonement, depending on the offense.

1. Unintentional Sin, requires a offering, usually a lamb or goat, it can be a turtle dove, or a grain offering, if you are poor, Lev. 4 & 5. Today we can’t do these offerings, so we offer prayer instead, 1 Kings 8:46 – 49, Hosea 14:3, Prov 28:13.

2. Intentional Sin, requires repentance only, 2 Chr 33:10, 2 Sam 12:13, Jonah 3:5-10.

3. The third is Good Deeds, say you treat someone offensively, you to go to that person and make things well again, coupled with a good deed. Also good deeds are seen by Hashem and taken into account for those times we miss the mark and don’t realize it, Prov. 10:2, 11:4, 16:6, 21:3, Hosea 6:6, Dan 4:24 (CB 4:27).

Believe it or not, but this argument existed during the time of the prophet Jeremiah. The Prophet sets the record straight, in Jeremiah 31:29 & 30. Also Hashem must have for seen this coming because He mentions it in Deuteronomy 24:16, and in Exodus 32:30 – 35. Most of Ezekiel chapter 18 is pertaining to this subject.

I am also comforted when I read:

“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.” Deu. 30:11

Isn’t it comforting to know there isn’t any commandment outside our reach, and if we do miss that mark, all we need to do is truly repent and be forgiven?

by: Jim Behnke

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