“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)
Some people have been Christians for a few months and some for decades, but the key to keeping your faith going is the cross. Every year at Easter we consider the cross of Jesus, taking our eyes of ourselves and looking to what God did for us, enabling us to relate to a holy God and to love people as He does.
God is holy and righteous, and we are not. In the beginning, God made us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). After sin entered the world, we all became sinful by rejecting God’s ways and nothing we do can ever take away our guilt (Rom 3:22). A holy and righteous God cannot leave the guilty unpunished, but He loves us – we needed a solution.
In the Old Testament law God provided a way of dealing with our condemnation through a sacrifice of atonement. The high priest would offer animal sacrifice, and its blood would drip down the altar from the mercy seat, represented a covering for the sins of the people. But it could not cleanse people of their guilty conscience (Hebrews 9:6-10).
When Jesus came, He was born of the Holy Spirit and Mary meaning He was fully human but outside of Adam’s sin-contaminated bloodline. He was born good, and He stayed good: never sinning. We could never fix this problem ourselves and so God came to do it for us. The atonement that changed everything, was that Jesus our Highest Priest did not just offer a sacrifice, He became the sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12). He gave His perfect righteous life to us on the cross (1 Peter 3:18a). By the righteous act of His sacrifice, we are all justified (Romans 5:18). We just need to receive it.
Peter wrote “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18a). It costs us nothing because Jesus paid everything. When Peter had a revelation of both Jesus’ righteousness and also his own sinfulness, he gave Jesus his life (Luke 5:8).
This is an incredible exchange! Not only did Jesus take our sins and give us His righteousness, but 2 Corinthians tells us we are the righteousness of God. This changes everything! His blood blots out our sins, it turns the judgment of God away from us and cleanses our mind of guilt, so we can freely serve God (Hebrews 9:14). Whether we think we are a “good person” or we say along with Paul that we are “the worst sinner” (1 Timothy 1:15), we all need to believe that Jesus died for us and exchange our sins for His righteousness (Romans 5:8).
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
- If you can, listen to Isaac Watts beautiful hymn, “When I survey the Wondrous Cross” together, or read the lyrics. Share if you can, how the cross has changed everything for you.
- Easter is a remembrance of the original communion/covenant/sacrifice, the “Holiest week of the year for Christians”. What are you doing this year to refocus on the cross during this time?
- As we take our eyes off our own mistakes and consider that we are the righteousness of God, does it free you to serve God in a new way?
- Encourage each other by sharing ways to explain the Easter symbols (hot cross buns/eggs/lamb) to those around us – look them up if you are unsure. Take some time to pray for the people in your world whom you can invite to an Easter service (in person or at your home on zoom).