TODAY’S SCRIPTURE 2 Corinthians 5:21

Imagine this. You are about to run in the 200-meter dash in the Olympic games. For most of us, this will require a lot of imagination! As you take your place at the starting line, you glance around at the other competitors. You get a lump in your throat when it occurs to you that you are not in good enough shape and have not trained nearly enough to be able to compete. Right before the starting gun is fired, Usain Bolt, known as the fastest man in the world, comes forward and yells, “Wait!” He looks you in the eye and says, “I want to take your place in this race. I will run instead of you, but you can stand on the podium and receive the award.”

Now imagine this. You stand looking at a cross. You are keenly aware that, because of the sin in your life that separates you from God, justice demands that you receive the punishment that sin deserves, which is death. Even a cruel death on a cross. As a soldier walks toward you to nail your hands and feet to that coarse piece of wood, Jesus comes forward and yells, “Wait!” He looks you in the eye and says, “I want to take your place on that cross. I will hang there and die instead of you so that you can stand before God clothed in My righteousness, pure and holy.”

Now stop imagining, because the second scenario is fact instead of fiction. The apostle Paul tells us that for our sake, God made Jesus to be sin, even though He never knew sin, so that in Jesus we could become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Righteousness in this passage simply means being in a right place before God. And according to Paul, it has nothing to do with our effort and everything to do with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We deserve to be punished for our sin, but Jesus bore our punishment so that we could reap the benefits of being made right with God (1 Peter 2:24).

Today I will…ask God to give me a deeper gratitude for the gift of righteousness that is available to me through the death of His Son Jesus Christ.