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
“If our greatest need had been information,” read a Christmas card I received, “God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But our greatest need was for forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.”
When an angel appeared to Joseph, who was then engaged to be married to Mary, the message was, “And she [Mary] will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Today, though, it is the link between our sin and a Savior which has grown hazy and obscure.
Focusing on our greatest need, though, is the problem, because this forces us to admit that there is a need, and we would generally rather crawl on our hands and knees to Calcutta or roll in a bed of ground glass than to admit our human failure or wrong doing—yes, to admit our personal sin.
When Paul wrote to the Romans, he categorically said, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). His word all is completely inclusive. None is excluded. Today, however, you don’t hear much of that three letter word, sin. The attitude of the world is nobody’s perfect. So don’t worry. Be happy!”
Sin is the problem, and a Savior is the solution. Even those who refuse to call it what it is know what the problem is, but rather than accept the solution, they prefer to deny that the problem exists. Is this rational? It is about as rational as refusing to believe your doctor when he says you have cancer, or refusing to take you’re automobile into the shop when you have been notified by the manufacturer that it is defective, or ignoring the road signs which tell you the highway ahead is washed out and you must detour.
The worst kind of ignorance and rebellion is the refusal to recognize there is a solution to your problem and an answer to your need. Paul, the theologian of the New Testament, came to grips with this whole issue of man’s need and God’s solution. Almost all of his letters addressed this issue prominently. Writing to the Corinthians, he said, “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). For a moment, ponder what Paul is saying: God—the creator of our universe, the one who breathed life into Adam—sent His Son into our world, and He paid the penalty for our sin that we might be accepted as righteous before God the Father.
A few years ago, I visited an inmate in prison who, in a fit of rage, had killed another man. Trying to explain how Christ, who knew no sin, paid the penalty of our sin so that we might have life, I just couldn’t get through. Finally, I put it like this: “Look, if I were willing to exchange clothes with you and take your place here in prison, and you put on my clothes and walked out the door as a free man, would you do it?” The light came on. A smile crossed his face as he said, “Sure, I would. A person would be a fool not to do that.” “Yes,” I responded, adding, “That is exactly what Christ did for you when He died.” But the consequences of ignoring what Jesus Christ did are even greater than refusing to let someone else take your place on death row. Think about it.
Resource reading: Isaiah 53