“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
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6
Charles Dickens tells the Tale of Two Cities in a heart-rending way.
Sydney Carton is a dissipated, cynical English alcoholic. Charles Darnay is a French aristocrat during the French Revolution. They both love the same woman. Carton exercises “the last full measure of devotion”* to his beloved by saving Darnay’s life, at his own expense. Disguised as his look-alike rival in love, he takes his place in prison, that Darnay might go free. Carton dies on the guillotine in Darnay’s place.
This is what Jesus did for each sinner in the world, if they choose to accept it. He offered Himself as our Substitute.
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14
God did this by executing a shocking justice upon His sinless Son, who died in our place, so that our penalty would be paid in full (tetelestai) . This made it possible for God to forgive, embrace, and welcome us into His kingdom, though undeserving.
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
Father, thank You for Your incomprehensible, sacrificial love for us helpless, clueless, hopeless sinners! Thank you for taking our place on the cross, bearing our penalty Yourself, so that You could adopt us into Your own family. Let my gratitude for being made alive from the dead strongly motivate me to live for You and Your kingdom.
* Lincoln, A., Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863.