“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” [2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV].
Here in one sentence is a summary of what Jesus did on the cross and what it means to us who believe – Jesus became sin so that we could become righteous. Today we will look at the first half of this verse.
What exactly does it mean that Jesus became sin? Jesus was the perfect man and God in one person, and never sinned. Jesus was tempted in all points like we are yet without sin [Hebrews 4:15]. He was the perfect Son of God, and yet the Father made Him to be sin for us. One of the great truths of
Scripture is that Jesus bore our sin, but even more than that, even though He never personally sinned He became sin. All the sin of every man was placed upon Jesus at the cross. There had been perfect, unbroken fellowship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit throughout eternity, but when
Jesus became sin for us the Father turned His face away. He is holy and cannot look upon sin. In that moment on the cross when Jesus became sin
He was separated from His Father and in great agony cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”
On the cross Jesus became sin for us and took on Himself all the effects and penalty of sin. Not only did Jesus become sin, but “He became a curse for us” [Galatians 3:13]. In addition to becoming sin and a curse, Jesus also bore all of our pain and sickness [Isaiah 53:4 compare Matthew 8:17].
There is an Old Testament story that helps us to understand this amazing truth. As a result of Israel’s complaining the Lord sent fiery serpents among them and many people were bitten and died. In response to the cries of his people, Moses prayed, and the Lord told him to make a fiery serpent and put it on a pole. Anyone who was bitten by a fiery serpent could look to the serpent on the pole and live [Numbers 21:4-9]. Jesus referred to this story saying, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” [John 3:14,15]. The serpent on the pole was a foreshadowing of what happened on the cross when Jesus was crucified. Just as the people of Israel looked on the image of sin and curse in the wilderness, so we look to Jesus, the One who became sin and a curse for us, and as we believe on Him, so we receive salvation, deliverance, healing, and eternal life.
Why is it important to understand that Jesus became sin for us, and in doing so bore all our sin, and the punishment that our sin deserved?
Why did Jesus cry out with a loud voice on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”
What do you think is the meaning of the statement, “Jesus was made a curse for us”?