Trading Places (2 Cor 5:21)

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, KJV)

It was around Christmas time many years ago. Our Wednesday evening service was completed. I locked up the church and drove home. As I was driving home, I saw a homeless man on the side of the road. He seemed to be cooking bits of food by holding them in his fingers over a fire in an old coffee can. As I watched this, I believed that the Lord impressed upon my heart to drive over, see the man, and give him ten-dollars. I was not sure why, but this I did.

As I approached the man, I lowered the window and held out a ten-dollar bill. I said something on the order of “The Lord asked me to give you this.” He immediately snatched the money out of my hand, turned his back on me, and walked away.

As I drove back to my house, I contemplated what had happened. I did not have the opportunity to speak with the man and share the gospel. Yet, I thought about something. I could never imagine voluntarily trading places with that man. At home I had a loving wife and children, plenty of good food, a warm place to sleep, all the luxuries one could ever want. This man had nothing but a number 10 coffee can, a few scraps of food, the clothes on his back, and now ten-dollars.

As I considered the impossibility of me wanting to trade places with this man, I considered Jesus. Jesus left the glories of heaven, became a man, God incarnate. He lived as a man in this sin fallen world in modest means. Relatively to His former place in heaven, He became a pauper. He did this to seek and save that which was lost, us sinners. He lived His live on this earth impeccably, without sin. Though He had no sin, He went voluntarily to the cross to save us from sin and its death penalty.

In doing all this, Jesus traded places with us. Paul captured this thought in this verse, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” In the cross, He took all our sin upon Himself. He took the physical pain and the agonizing pain of our guilt and sorrow for sin. Imagine what it must have been like to have never known sin, its guilt, remorse, and sorrow and take all this on, not for one person but for the entire world for all time. In exchange He took our sin and gave us who have believed His righteousness. We deserved what Jesus received, but He traded places with us.

Think about this. How blessed we are. It is no wonder that true believers love Him so. It is because He first loved us. How often do we give thanks to Him for trading places with us, taking our sin and paying the penalty of sin for us. Let us take time to worship Him, to give honor and glory to Him for what He has done.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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