At the heart of Christianity is indeed a great exchange, a double exchange. Christ, our great Groom, became our sin and bore the wrath we deserved. And in exchange, we get his perfect life and all that justly comes with it: God’s love, eternal life, heavenly rewards, unity with each other, restored and unbreakable fellowship with God. We are rich beyond measure, having God himself as our treasure, and this empowers us to live wholly for him.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
A great exchange lies at the heart of the Christian faith. God’s people contributed their sin, their failures, their guilt, and exchanged them for forgiveness, for joy, for Jesus’s righteousness, leading to eternal life. Have you marveled at this recently?
Allow me to tell the story again.
Scripture depicts God’s people as a woman who formerly had nothing but sin and shame (Ezekiel 16; Hosea 1). Yet somehow, the righteous King of heaven decided to pursue her for marriage. She was poor, naked, and diseased beyond hope of recovery. She laid on her sickbed, unable to rise; he sat on the throne of heaven, worshiped by angels. She committed sedition against this King, cursing him in her sin — despite all his unceasing kindness and provisions.
The last thing she expected — indeed the last thing she looked for — was the love and forgiveness that this King would ensure she acquired.
He Came to Become Sin
From heaven, he came and sought her. He came to the ancient ruins of Eden, taking a human body and reasoning soul to visit the fallen realms of his earth.
And although he created the world, the world did not know him. Taking wonder deeper, he traveled even to Israel, his own people, and they still did not recognize him. He taught among them as no one before. He healed their sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead to life.
As he hinted at his identity, Israel’s spiritual watchmen did not grow relieved or enthralled, but incensed and jealous. They rejected him, refused to follow, questioned him at every turn, stirred up the people against him, and in the end, crucified him. Yet not without his consent. He gave himself willingly unto death, bringing his Bride — still ignorant and dead in sin — to life. He embraced that wrath she deserved. He became sin, our sin, that we might be forgiven.
I hope you’ve heard that story before — love hearing it over and over. Heaven has no greater to tell.
Yet as we feast upon its bounty, drawing strength for each new day, do we forget this was a two-way exchange? For myself, I often emphasize what Jesus took on my behalf: wrath, punishment, death, sin, abandonment. Before the cross, I gratefully sing,
Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost;
Christ, the Rock of our salvation,
His the name of which we boast.
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded Who on him their hope have built.