2 Corinthians 5:21 - The Exchange
*All scripture read from NKJV unless otherwise noted
I love dearly the passage of scripture found in 2 Corinthians 5:21
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
As I said I so dearly love this scripture because it tells us very plainly of how much our Father loves us. It reminds us of the extremes He took to rescue us… He sent His precious one and only Son with the single purpose the He would become everything God hated so that we could become everything He loved.
There was a man named Haddon Robinson who was a professor of preaching, and in being a professor of preaching he had listened to and/ or read thousands upon thousands of sermons, and towards the end of His life, he once exclaimed that after being subjugated to so many messages it was a miracle he wasn’t an atheist yet.
He went on to say
“We don’t preach the gospel! As I listen to some preachers, if I were an outsider, I honestly wouldn’t know what I was to respond to… We want to reach people, but the clear terms of the gospel are seldom enunciated.”
So what is the Gospel? What are its terms?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John3:16)
This is the Gospel: That God, your Father who knew you before you were conceived, He was speaking your name with love, passion, and pride before you even took your first breath (Jeremiah 1:5) loved you so very much, He didn’t want to die in your sin, so He sent His only son to stand in your place. Jesus became everything God hated, everything you hate about yourself, your doubts, your fears, your past, your anxiety. He became all of that so that you would never be separated from the love of God. These are the terms: Just believe. Believe that God loves you, believe Christ Jesus died for you (Romans 5:8) Just say yes to that.
I’m not asking you if you are ok. I am not here to present a way to live a better life. The Gospel isn’t a message about reaching our full potential or improving our lives. It cuts so much deeper.
I’m not asking you to live rightly. Some people think the gospel is that we should live moral lives. Christianity is sometimes presented as nothing more than virtues – public and private. Christians are thought to be simply about doing religious things, such as baptism, and communion, and going to church. The Christian life is nothing more than obeying the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, reading our Bibles, and praying. Being Christian means building up the community, giving to others, contributing to soup kitchens, and preserving historical buildings rather than making parking lots. But, surprising as it may be, this isn’t the Gospel. The Gospel isn’t about anything we do or can do. It’s about what Jesus has done for us. It’s not simply an additive that comes to make our already good lives better. No! The Gospel is a message of wonderful good news that comes to those who realize their desperation before God.
I want to use one word, one verse, and one sentence for what I hope is the simplest Gospel presentation ever.
Here’s the one word: exchange.
And here’s the one verse:
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
It is not the puzzle of the New Testament, but the ultimate solution of all puzzles…the key-stone of the whole system of apostolic thought…it is the focus in which the reconciling love of God burns with the purest and intensest flame.
Jesus took our sin. Jesus never sinned. He’s the only human who’s ever lived who never sinned. But Jesus took our place. You see, we were separated from God because of our sin. We were enemies of God (Romans 5:10). But God sent His Son Jesus to come to earth to become our substitute. This means that He became the enemy of God in our place. Even though He had never sinned, He took our place. It was as if He had done all the sinful things that we had done. He bore our sins on the cross.
Think about all the sins you’ve committed in your life. None of us can think of all of them but maybe think of a couple. Think of a recent one. Think of one that left you deeply ashamed. You would be embarrassed if anyone in the room knew that you had thought or done what you did. Imagine that we could put the sins of just the people in this room right now on the screen and watch them. We would go running out of this room. We would never look each other in the eye again.
But Jesus didn’t run away. He stepped in and, even though He was perfect, He took your place. He suffered our separation, took our place, and secured our salvation.
Galatians 3:13 says it again
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)
All through scripture history is repeated again and again and again with a repeatingly bleak outcome… man tries to gain access to the righteousness of God, to be in His fellowship again and we just couldn’t do it, no matter how hard we tried.
Romans 9:31 tells us that not even God’s chosen people could make the mark
“but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.”
In our sin and shame, we are forsaken from the presence of God. (Psalms 5:4)
But look at our Great Shepherd, our Messiah, our Christ.
All through the New Testament Jesus reveals that He is with the Father and the Father with Him. We see in John 11:41-42
“Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me.”
Now look at Matthew 27:46 and you will find something so heartbreaking yet so beautiful. It is the single moment where Jesus says something out of charter
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Do you see it beloved? Here is the very Son of God. Prior to His coming man had not heard a word, a prophet, or a single sign from God. This is known as the 400 years of silence. And here is the Christ always knowing the Father’s will, speaking with Him, talking to and hearing from the Father, and suddenly for the first and only time our beloved Savior cries out just before He dies
“Father… where did you go?
Why is it heartbreaking? Because for the first time Jesus was not in the presence of God the Father, He was utterly and completely void of His voice. Why so beautiful? Because it is here that we see this beautiful exchange. He was now taking on those years of silence, that wall that stood between our ears and the sound of our loving Creators beating heart.
The very next thing Jesus cries out… this is the last words that He will speak before He dies
“…He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”
What is finished beloved?
Your sin… finished
Your guilt… finished
Your shame… finished
That gaping hole that stood between you and your loving Father.
It’s a hole that nothing in all of human history could fill.
Maybe you can place yourself in the shoes of the rich young ruler found in Luke 18
You heard that to make God happy you need to manage money wisely… so you tried that and you still feel empty.
You heard be successful so that you can use your power to do great things… and yeah you still feel helpless
You heard to live morally upright so that you can make your community a better place…and you still feel broken
You tried throwing everything you could into that gap… sex, drugs, alcohol, money, fame, influence, religion, and yet that gap is still there… in fact it may seem bigger than before.
But you see there are no stepping stones across that valley, Jesus tells us in John 14:6
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
I cannot tell you how to “live a better life”
I cannot tell you how to “have a successful marriage”
I cannot tell you how to “raise the perfect child”
I cannot tell you how to “be the best influence or to become successful”
I cannot talk of such things because I have not and will not study these things
“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)
I can offer you only one thing. Do you know my Jesus?
Maybe you’ve heard that He’s angry with the world… that is not my Jesus
Maybe you’ve heard that He hates this certain sin or person… that’s not my Jesus
Maybe you’ve heard that you have to get right first… that’s not my Jesus
You have to come pure, you have to get other relationships right….
Maybe you’ve heard His name spoken before but were told you had to do ABC/ 123 first… that is not my Jesus.
My Jesus, the only one I find in this scripture says one thing. Come as you are. (Matthew 11:28)
You don’t have to do anything you don’t have to change your past, your current condition, or what you think your future is… He already exchanged everything He is for you.
Can you hear Him calling, “Please please please just come as you are… time is so precious. Don’t try and fix yourself, don’t try and earn this. I don’t want to spend another second apart from you. I love you!”
But it gets even better! Yes, Jesus says "Come as you are." But He also says "I will never leave you the same."
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
You are new, You Are New, YOU ARE NEW!
I used to say, like so many others I’ve heard preach, that this is one of the greatest promises from God.
I must ask for forgiveness for I have been convicted by the Holy Spirit because it is not a promise.
You see a promise is something you look forward to. A promise by its very definition is “a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen.”
You see this is not a promise because when we receive salvation we don’t have to wait until the great beyond to shed the chains of our past. We don’t have to labor to shrug off the condemnation of our sin. We don’t have to pray and pray and pray and pray and hope and hope and hope for reconciliation with our Father because the very moment you call upon the name of Jesus, the name above every other name you ARE a new creation. This isn’t a promise it is a fact!
The scripture doesn’t say if anyone is in Christ he will become a new creation, old things will eventually fade and you can one day become new. No, it decidedly does not say that. That would be a promise. It would be a great promise. Better than we deserve. But God didn’t just send Jesus to give us better than we deserve, He came so that we can have life and life more abundant (John 10:10). Not just more than we could ask for but more than our minds can even imagine. More than a promise, He gives us a fact!
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” Ephesians 30:20
The power IS working in us!
What power is that you ask… it’s the power of the precious blood of Jesus Christ!
“For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”
This is the power of the blood of Jesus! That because of this precious blood we don’t have to hope to be reconciled. Through His blood, shed on Calvary, all things HAVE BEEN reconciled!
Blood is a powerful thing. When we have a child and there is the question of who the father is what do we look to for identification? We look to DNA, we look to the blood. We take the test to the courtroom and when it’s handed to the judge he can with utmost confidence, looking at the men in question, point to a singular man and say “You are the father”
It doesn’t matter what that child looks like. He could like like someone else kid, could look like any of the other men in the lineup, but the fact is in the blood, and the blood doesn’t lie!
Not only did Jesus stand in your place and take your sins, but when you accept salvation Christ trades your blood for His. That blood that healed the sick, raised the dead, casted out demons. That blood which defeated death, wiped clean the slate of your sin, the blood which broke down the gates of hell and swept into its very depths to rescue you. That blood is now coursing through your veins!
When you stand before The Judge of all judges. I don’t care what you look like, I don’t care where you’ve been, I don’t care what people have told you, what lies you’ve told yourself. When you accept Jesus Christ the only thing God is going to see is the very DNA of Jesus His Son inside you and the blood doesn’t lie! The fact is in the blood and the blood doesn't lie!
That is the greatest fact! That is the greatest exchange, not just that He took our sins, but that He gave you His DNA, His Identity, His blood!
Jesus became everything God hated and if you just accept Him, cry out His name, accept the fullness of Salvation. You will instantly become everything God loves!