God’s judgments in the Bible are retributive but they are also remedial and restorative. Isaiah tells us that the sufferings of punishment that fell on Christ was disciplinary and corrective. The Hebrew word of punishment is Musar and it means chastening, correction, discipline. Moreover, the Bible says Christ learned obedience through what He suffered. Those that hold to Penal Substitution like I do must also be a universalist. For, the penalty for sin cannot be eternal suffering for Christ didn’t suffer forever. The penalty for sin can’t be eternal death for Christ was resurrected. The pattern we see in scripture is judgment followed by resurrection and restoration. This is what we see with the nations and the Kings of the earth in Revelation. They are the enemies of Christ destroyed in battle under the wrath of the lamb. But we see them entering into the forever open gates of the city after their destruction. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
One of the main reasons people object to Penal Substitution is because of the intensive suffering that innocent Christ underwent. The punishment that God inflicted on Christ by allowing evil to have it’s way with Christ seems cruel unusual and unjust. But the defenders of Penal Substitution have always pointed out that this objection fails to take into consideration the mystical union Christ enters into with humanity. In virtue of His union with humanity He becomes one with them. He stands as our proxy and representative before God as our sins are imputed and replicated in Him. He stands as guilty before God not because He committed a sin during His lifetime but because of the mystical union he has with humanity. God lays on Christ the iniquity of us all. That’s a huge amount of sin that is imputed or replicated to Christ. We should expect the suffering to be severe. Especially since it lasted only a few hours. All punishment has some pain and suffering attached to it. Moreover, all sin is ultimately against God and seeing who God is the crimes are a lot more serious than if they were just against another person. This is another reason the punishment was so severe. Christ was a Divine Person. The worst evil in human history was the killing of the Son of God. One act - two intentions. The evil intentions of man murdered the Son of God. This is how God would carry His holy judgment against His people in the OT. His holy intentions in judgment were good man’s evil actions and intentions were evil. This is why often in the OT He will use evil to judge His people and then turn around and judge those who brought evil against His people. But the pattern laid down all through scripture is judgment followed by restoration and resurrection. This is what we see at the cross and it serves as the example of the penalty for sin just as Sodom serves as an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly. The pattern is judgment and destruction followed by resurrection and restoration. Just as the heavens and earth undergoes a fiery judgment of destruction but is restored to a new heavens and earth.