The Great Exchange

March 27, 2013

II Corinthians 5:21

Jesus died to take away my sins.  What a wonderful gem of truth this is!  And there are many scriptures that show the cleansing power of His blood, of what He accomplished on the cross.  Here are just  a few references from the Bible that put forth this truth:  Isaiah 53:5, I Corinthians 15:3, 4; Colossians 2:13, 14; I Peter 2:24; I John 1:7; I John 4:10.

But while many evangelical Christians tout the truth of Jesus Christ taking upon Himself our sins, I have rarely heard the second part of that transaction expounded.  Yes, there is another part to that which Jesus accomplished on the cross, and it is brought out wonderfully in II Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV):

 For He [the Father] made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Do you see the two parts of the transaction?  He took our sins upon Himself, and He gave us His own righteousness.  That’s why I call it The Great Exchange!  Let’s look more closely at the two parts of the great exchange.

I see it as a changing of our clothes.  There are at least six ways this is depicted in the Bible, all six show the insufficiency of our own poor self-attempts to cover our nakedness:

•    In Genesis 3:7, after Adam and Eve, in disobedience to God’s specific command, had eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, it says, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons [or loin coverings].”  Well, leaves may provide a covering, but they are temporary at best.  Just wait until the fall of the year comes around!!!  God later provided the skin of an animal to cover them, the first instance of shedding of blood in the Bible – an act pointing toward Jesus’ shed blood.

•    Leprosy, in the Bible, is a picture of sin and what sin does to a life.  In Leviticus chapters 13 & 14, God sets down regulations for dealing with the dreaded contagious disease of leprosy.  The leper was considered unclean and was forced to be isolated from everyday society.  But a form of leprosy could also be contracted by inanimate objects such as houses and pieces of clothing.  In the case of clothing, if the infected piece was considered to be beyond cleansing, the examining priest was commanded to “…burn that garment, whether warp or woof, in woolen or in linen, or any thing of skin, wherein the plague is:  for it is a fretting [persistent] leprosy; it shall be burnt in the fire.” (Leviticus 13:52).  Who would ever want to cover their nakedness with such a piece of leprous clothing?

•    In Isaiah 59:5 & 6, the Lord is calling down judgment upon Israel’s disobedience.  Among the descriptions of their sins, it is written, “They…weave the spider’s web….Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.”  I don’t know about you, but I would not want to parade about in public wearing only spider’s webs!  Besides, such webs might have the weaver still attached!

•    In Isaiah 64:6, God views our sins thus: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”  Filthy rags is a bit of a euphemism.  Actually the idea is mentruous rags, ceremonially unclean in Hebrew thinking (see Leviticus 15:19-27), but it would be unthinkable to wear any rags so blood stained as common clothing in any society.  And before God, such garments are depicted as  “…our righteousnesses…” – the very best we can do!  What does the worst we can do look like to Him?

•    In Zachariah 3:1-5 Joshua the high priest is standing before the Lord.  But he first appears in his own righteousness, and it says in Zechariah 3:3, “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments….”  But God commanded in verse 4, “Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him He said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.”  This is the high priest!!  If anyone was thought to be holy, it was the high priest!  But he too was covered with filthy rags and needed a change of clothing from God.

•     In Luke 15;11 through 32 is recorded the parable of the prodigal son.  This younger son prematurely collected his inheritance, burned through it with sinful living in a foreign land, and ended up feeding pigs – quite a predicament for a Jew!  When he finally came to his senses and went back home to his father, he arrived wearing the tattered and dirty clothes of a pig-herder!  Such horrible looking and smelling garments were the result of sinful living, not fit for his father’s son.  So the first thing this young man’s father told the servants to do was to “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet….” (Luke 15:22).  His pig clothes were not acceptable!

You see, in the great exchange that Jesus accomplished on the cross, it says in                II Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us….”  But if He stopped there, that would leave us naked and exposed.  The second part of the great exchange is “…that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Isaiah 61:10 says it best:  “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

In Jesus Christ I no longer wear the leaves, the rags, the spider’s webs of sin.  I am clothed with the robe of righteousness – God’s very own righteousness!  I stand before God now, not as a sinner, but as perfect as Jesus Christ is Himself!  I wear His robe of righteousness!

Thank you, Lord!  What a great exchange it is!!!

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