the forty-second parallel

Archive for November, 2006

Those Odd Moments

Little girls have a way of greatly impacting the amount of extra time one has for extracurricular activities like blogging. But at the same time, they also have a way of casting certain aspects of life into very sharp focus – even at three months of age. In any case, this is something that I’ve been thinking about and meaning to write about for quite a while now …

I don’t know why we can read the same words in the Bible over and over and then one day things just click and all makes perfect sense. A simple turn of phrase that previously seemed content to fade into the crowd can suddenly burst into a room, gushing with the beauty of the love of God and demanding nothing short of stunned silence on our part. I presume it to be part of the more mystical [1] side of following Christ – the Holy Spirit picks and chooses times to reveal things to us for reasons that may of may not ever become clear [2].

I had one of those odd little moments several weeks ago while listening to Alistair Begg via the Resurgence. In his sermon, Begg mentioned 2 Corinthians 5:21 which reads:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

When I heard him read that, the second half of the verse stopped me in my tracks. I’ve read 2 Corinthians multiple times but can’t ever recall paying particular attention to that verse. But the implications and meaning of the first half of the verse didn’t hit me until last week while listening to Mark Driscoll.

Read the first half of that verse – particularly “he made him to be sin” – I don’t think that statement is any sort of literary slight of hand. It’s meant to be taken quite literally. Christ became sin.

Are you a liar? Christ became a liar. Are you an alcoholic? Christ became an alcoholic. Are you a pervert? Christ became a pervert. Think about that – if that statement doesn’t make you squirm, then you don’t fully understand the gravity of what Christ did on the cross. To glibly say “Christ took away our sin” makes it sound easy and clean and just another day on the job for Jesus. But to say that Christ became our sin – our lies, our deceit, our perversions – is to recognize the weight and guilt that fell on him. He didn’t co-sign a loan for us – he became guilty of every sin that we have committed.

That’s the weight of the cross. And taken on it’s own, that simple statement is quite overwhelming. The enormity of it demands from us a response. But before we can respond, we inevitably ask “Why?”. Christ became our sin on the cross; he died; he rose again. But why in the world would Jesus do that? What was the point?

The simple answer is to say “so that our sins might be forgiven” – which is correct. But, again, oversimplifies the enormity of the situation. And this is where the second half of the verse comes in and we discover the glory of the cross.

It says: “… so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Christ didn’t go to the cross so that we could say we’re sorry and get off the hook and become buds. Through him, we actually become righteous. He doesn’t make us just good enough to get into heaven. We literally become the righteousness of God.

Pay attention to the end of that statement. Not righteous – but righteousness itself. And not just righteousness, but the righteousness of God. We assume Christ’s righteousness, just as Christ assumed our sin.

Mindblowing, isn’t it?

[1]: I mean “mystical” in a most literal sense – things having an importance that is not immediately apparent or obvious; that are beyond ordinary understanding. See Phillipians 4:7

[2]: And I don’t think it’s a new thing. There are several times recorded in the gospels that Jesus told the disciples something that to us (with a death/burial/resurrection + 2,000 years) seems mindblowingly obvious. But, as the gospel writers tell us, the weight and meaning of Jesus’ words was withheld from them.

Posted on November 2nd, 2006 | Jesus, Life in General, The Gospel