– The Moment Jesus Became Sin for Us –
The cross is more than something that tops a church steeple. It’s more than an ornament on a living room wall. It’s more than a golden icon decorating your neck. The cross is the most foundational, irreducible essence of our faith.
Sinners don’t fully understand the cross; if they did, they would run to it. Saints don’t fully appreciate it; if they did, they would live radically different lives. In so much of our teaching and understanding, we have diminished the importance of the cross; consequently, we often fail to realize its practical relevancy for today.
We forget why it happened—and all that it accomplished on our behalf.
Do you have allergies? I do. When I experience an allergic reaction, my eyes water, my nose itches, and I often sneeze. Many of you know firsthand about allergies. If you are allergic to an animal, you’ll usually get away from it as soon as you can.
One of the things you have to understand to appreciate what happened on the cross is that God is “allergic” to sin. He will have absolutely nothing to do with it. He is holy. Holiness is His nature. What blue is to the sky, wet is to water, and hot is to the sun, holiness is to God. Holiness is the very nature and character of God. And since holiness and sin are diametrically opposed to each other, God and sin cannot hang out together. That also means, since sin is a part of who we are, God cannot hang out with us.
God, out of His great love, created a way for you and me—in spite of our sin—to enter His presence. That way is through the cross. That way has been made possible through Jesus, the sinless sacrifice who bore our sins.
Over seven billion people currently populate planet earth. The number of people who live in the world today comprise only a fraction of the number of people who have lived since the beginning of time. When Jesus hung on the cross, all of the sins of the seven billion people alive today—as well as those of the billions of people who came before us—fell upon Him. All the sins—both actions and attitudes—of countless billions of people were hurled upon Jesus Christ.
How bad was that moment?
We often think that the pain of the cross came from the whip—the cat o’ nine tails—that stripped the skin from Jesus’ back. Or from the crown of thorns on His head that dug deeply into His skull. Or from the nails in His hands and feet. But all that agony was nothing, compared to that moment in time when He looked up to heaven and groaned, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
At that moment, Jesus became sin, severing Himself from the fullness of the intimacy He had always known with His Father.
As the sin of the whole world shot through His body, God the Father turned His back on His Son. God had no choice but to look away.
Jesus endured the distance, the desertion and the rejection for us. He endured it to provide a way for our salvation. There is only one name under heaven through whom we must be saved—that is the name of Jesus Christ.