For some people, the notion of substitutionary death is morally wrong. To explain many misconceptions, in his book The Cross, Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes:
To them, the idea that one man should be punished for other people’s sin is immoral. The whole notion is quite unthinkable. A man bears his own punishment. This idea that somebody else comes along who is absolutely innocent, and that you put your guilt on him and that he then bears the punishment - the thing is quite immoral. They say they cannot believe in a God who does a thing like that, a God who can punish his own Son, cause his death, in order to forgive others. It is not justice.
They say that it violates their sense of justice and of morality. Have you not heard that? Perhaps you have thought it? If you have, the cross is an offence, because the essence of this doctrine is subsitution.
It teaches that Chrst is the Lamb of God ‘that taketh away the sins of the world’; that our sins are transferred to him, are imputed to him, and put upon him; and that it is ‘by his stripes we are healed’.
It teaches that God has smitten him. God has ‘laid on him the iniquity of us all’ (Is 53:6). And to the modern man, the natural human thinker, this is an offence, immoral, unjust, and unrighteous. So he hates it and he rejects it
([Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1986], 48).
It is here and now that we can echo the following prayer of a Puritan:
O MY SAVIOR,
I thank thee from the depths of my being, for thy wondrous grace and love, in bearing my sin in thine own body on the tree.
May thy cross be to me as the tree that sweetens my bitter Marahs, as the rod that blossoms with life and beauty, as the brazen serpent that calls forth the look of faith.
By thy cross crucify my every sin;
Use it to increase my intimacy with thyself;
Make it the ground of all my comfort, the liveliness of all my duties, the sum of all thy gospel promises, the comfort of all my afflictions, the vigour of my love, thankfulness, graces, the very essence of my religion;
And by it give me that rest without rest, the rest of ceaseless praise.
(From “The Grace of the Cross” in The Valley of Vision [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 1994], 171).