He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
–2 Corinthians 5:21
There could have been no Christmas without the cradle, but casting a shadow over that cradle was a cross. If the cradle is the beginning of the Christmas story, then the cross represents the main body of the Christmas story. It explains why Jesus came to earth.
Jesus was born to die. Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Jesus came to be born in the cradle so that He could live a perfect life and go to the cross and take the penalty we deserve for our sins.
There is an ancient story told about a Tibetan ruler who had decreed that anyone who was caught stealing would have his hand chopped off. One day, an elderly woman was brought before the king. The king looked at her and said, “You have been found guilty of this crime. You know what the penalty is. But because you are my mother, I will take the penalty for you.” He placed his arm on the chopping block and had his hand severed from his arm. You see, if the king had overlooked his mother’s crime, then he would not have been a just king. A penalty had to be exacted, and he was willing to bear it. The same thing is true for you and me. God is a holy God. God’s “eyes are too pure to approve evil” (Habakkuk 1:13), so it is impossible for God to excuse our sin. If He did that, He would no longer be a just God. Ezekiel 18:4 says, “The soul who sins will die” will be separated from God for all eternity. But God was willing to take the penalty for you and me, and that is what He did when He died on that cross. In some inexplicable way, Jesus experienced the full wrath of God so that one day we could receive His blessing.
Not long ago, a famous religious leader made headlines when he said, “All who live a just life will be saved even if they do not believe in Jesus.” What he said was absolutely wrong. If there were any other way to be saved, then Jesus did not need to suffer that excruciating death on the cross. He did that because the cross represents man’s only way to forgiveness and hope.
Isaiah prophesied about what Christ would do for us. In Isaiah 53:5-6, he wrote, “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” The whole purpose of Christ’s coming is summarized by the cross.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Cradle, The Cross, And The Crown” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.