Lesson for the Lord’s Day

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

Recall the account of the scape goat that was employed by the Children of Israel in the ceremony of Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16). Goats are incapable of performing, or even imagining, the types of sins that the Israelites were involved in. And yet, the high priest would pronounce the sins of the people over that goat, and the goat would be deemed to bear all of those sins. In a small way, that scape goat was a little picture of the Lord Jesus, as described in today’s text: One Who was incapable of sinning was deemed to be bearing the sins of an entire human race.

When our text tells us that the Lord Jesus became sin, it does not say, or even imply, that He was in any way sinful. That is impossible. As God, He could not sin, and nothing in His holy nature could in any way respond to or be drawn to sin. Our text does not contradict the truth that He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners (Hebrews 7:26). Nor does our text imply that the Lord Jesus was guilty. He could not be; He could always declare that He did always those things that please the Father (John 8:29). We need to be very careful in preserving the words and the sense of this portion as God intends, because it is critical that the One the Father sent to be the Saviour of the world is worthy of being so.

This is not the only portion of Scripture that uses the same word for sin as for sin-offering. Remember God’s words to Cain about sin lying at the door? An offering was available to Cain, and offering that he refused. Although all of Scripture, and all of Heaven, proclaims the innocence of the Son of God, the wrath of God fell upon Him because of sin. From Heaven’s throne poured the judgment that our sins deserved until the full measure of judgment for all sins was meted out. Only then could the Lord Jesus utter that victorious cry ‘Tetelestai!’ ‘Finished’. He Who was made sin for us fully met the sin payment.

Our text tells us the results of His being made sin for us: we are made the righteousness of God in Him. Because of the completeness of His fulfilling God’s requirement for judgment against our sin, we can enter into a sphere from which our sins blocked us before we were saved. The righteousness of God is a standing that surely exceeds our minds’ capacity to grasp. But it refers to our having received the very righteous nature of God. We have entered into far more than Adam was removed from in the Edenic fall.

It is only through making His Son sin for us that God has made us His righteousness. If we can’t understand this, we can at least accept it and give thanks for it. – Jim MacIntosh

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