December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”—2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB)
I remember it like it was yesterday: My hometown Marlins traded away my favorite player Miguel Cabrera, along with pitcher Dontrelle Willis, to the Detroit Tigers. “Miggy” was Miami’s best player, a 24-year-old superstar, so you’d expect to get some great players for him, right? Wrong! All six players had mediocre careers with the Marlins and were all gone within a few years. What about Miggy? A lifelong Tiger . . .12-time All-Star, seven Silver Slugger awards, four batting titles, back-to-back MVP, and one of only 14 players to win the Triple Crown in MLB history (the first player since 1962). He’s a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer. This is one of the most lopsided trades in sports history!
Today’s passage shows us the most lopsided trade in history. Here, the apostle Paul tells us that Jesus—who is perfect, unstained by the deathly effects of sin, and took upon Himself all the sin of mankind (past, present, and future)—wore it all for us on the cross. In the eyes of God, Jesus was every sin in that moment . . . all the sin of all humanity for all time. And He bore its full weight and punishment. He endured a brutal, inhumane, torturous death—the death we all deserve. He literally traded His life for ours (Romans 5:5–8)! And He did this so we could BE the righteousness of God in Him! Peter said it this way: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18 NIV).
And here’s something truly powerful to ponder: Charles Ellicott once wrote, “The “righteousness of God,” as in Romans 3:21–22, expresses not simply the righteousness which He gives, nor that which He requires, though neither of these meanings is excluded, but rather that which belongs to Him as His essential attribute.”
He put on the robe of sin that belonged to us so we could put on robes of righteousness that belong to Him. 2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV) declares “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” He endured our death so we could have eternal life in heaven. He experienced separation from the Father so we could be reconciled to the Father. Jesus Christ became a curse for us so we could become coheirs, children adopted by the Father into His family forever. We call this lopsided trade the beautiful exchange.
My dear friends, this is how much God loves us . . . these are the lengths God went to in order that we may be restored and experience eternity as we were always meant to. This is the beauty of the gospel, the trade Jesus made for us, the ransom He paid to rescue us! I don’t know about you, but knowing this just makes the idea of going to heaven that much sweeter. Why? Because I know just how much God wants me to be there! It’s a feeling of belonging that can’t be found anywhere else. And guess what? He wants your friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, HOA president, grocery store cashier, and beyond there, too! Knowing this, let’s go out there and spread the news of this incredible trade!
Pause: Have you ever made a trade? What was it? What did it require doing? Did you give up more than you got? Christ traded His life for ours, His sinlessness for the sins of the world. He wore it and bore it all for you and me. What does this mean to you? How has this knowledge impacted your life?
Practice: Are you burdened for someone who hasn’t accepted Jesus’ invitation to be the righteousness of God? Pray for them today. Consider ways you could show them the overwhelming and all-consuming love of Jesus and help lead them to a relationship with Him.
Pray: Father, today I pray for ___________, who doesn’t know You yet, who has not believed the gospel and received the redemption Your Son died to give us. May You reveal Yourself to them and draw them to salvation. Use me, Lord, to show them the power and beauty of the gospel. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.