Galatians 2:20 (ESV)
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Often I find myself struck by the beauty and glory of what God did through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. This thought came to me last night while reading through Russell Moore’s new book, Tempted and Tried. As Dr. Moore described his own struggles with temptation and sometimes failure, he made mention of the fact that God already punished his sin. This is not to say that God had done something to Dr. Moore for his failure like causing his car to be scratched or him to get sick. No, It was far worse than that. God had taken the sinful Dr. Moore, just like he has taken me as the sinner, and crucified him. God hung us on a Roman cross and poured out on us his full wrath, a full eternity’s worth of hell, for our sin against him.
Hey, wait a minute Travis, you are not 2,000 years old. You did not live during the Roman empire. You most certainly were not crucified. That’s Jesus you’re talking about.
Yes, I know. And I’ve still told the truth. Paul was able to say, “I have been crucified with Christ.” He also said God Made Jesus to be sin for us. The astonishing exchange that Jesus willingly went through on the cross is utterly amazing.
If you could look at my legal record before the God of the universe, you would see that God has marked my account as fully righteous. This is not because I have always been good or that I am good now; rather, it is because God has made the great exchange between me and Jesus. God counts my sin as fully punished, the penalty fully paid, because of the fact that he poured out an infinite amount of wrath on Jesus, the infinite wrath that each of my sins deserved. God, in a very real sense, counts it as if he punished me on that cross.
Not only did God do the exchange that way, he also made one more radical exchange. He made Jesus be sin for me so that in Jesus, I might be granted God’s own righteousness. Jesus willingly gives me his perfection. God’s books show that I have, credited to my account, the perfection of Christ.
Christians, never tire of thinking about the cross. Never tire of looking deep into the gospel. Never tire of thinking how Jesus was punished in your place, as your sacrificial substitute. Never stop marveling at the fact that God imputes Christ’s righteousness to your account, calling you righteous even though you have never been righteous on your own. Never stop praising God for the miracle of mercy that is the cross of Christ.