One of my favorite verses on which to reflect or teach at this time of year is 2 Cor. 5:21, “He (God the Father) made Him who knew no sin (God the Son), to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
This is how I recall the passage: It is probably a mix of translations from over the years, but I love to think about this. I love to reflect on it during the Christmas season because it illustrates an exchange. We love to exchange gifts and we who are believers say it is a way to celebrate the coming of Christ. Indeed, our celebration should be directed in such ways. For in this verse we see the humility of Christ, taking from us a “gift” that no one wants, while He gives us the “gift” that everyman desires, whether one recognizes it or not.
What is it that every man strives for? It is, at the end of the day, some form of righteousness. Some may not want to admit it, but in some sense all men want to be right with “whatever” is out there. Some have chosen to suppress this truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18–19), but all men know and will someday fully know the truth of God’s existence and His right to judge. Therefore, men are trying to appease God (or a god) through means that will ultimately render them frustrated and certainly present them unrighteous before the eyes of holy and righteous God.
This striving, as has been intimated, is foolishness (Rom 3:10–18). We must recognize that all we can bring to God is our sin. Our feeble attempts at righteousness are worthless and our right standing with God must be founded on that which God can accept. This is none other than Jesus Christ, his blood and righteousness (Rom. 3:21–26). Here we come to the place that we must recognize that it is Jesus who bore the sins of all who would believe and as our substitute, He not only paid for our sins, but has also become our righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30).
So as we celebrate this holiday season, let us recognize the full weight of Phil. 2:5–8, the humility of Christ and what He did to pursue our justification and the glory of God. Let us honor Him rightly for the great exchange!