The Great Transfer
Normally, there is no way to separate a criminal action from the criminal. A murderer cannot transfer his act of murder onto to someone or something else. But with ancient Israel, God set up a means—the sacrificial system—whereby a sinner could transfer his sin onto an animal. The holy and righteous God would then take the life-blood of the animal in the place of the life-blood of the sinner (e.g. Lev. 16). Isaiah’s great Suffering Servant text strongly emphasizes this substitutionary atonement dimension: “Yahweh has laid upon him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6). That is what was happening during the first Good Friday. In order to save all sinners themselves God transferred to Jesus their sinfulness and sinful actions. The Old Testament helps us understand Good Friday.