April 6, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NRSV)
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
As we remember the death of Jesus on Good Friday, we rightly recall the events of his Passion. As we do, let us also remember what God, the Triune God, was doing on Good Friday. God was taking our sin off of our shoulders and bearing it for us. God was paying the penalty for sin so that we might begin a right relationship with God, and through God, with other people.
This devotion is part of the series: Treasure in Clay Jars.
Today is Good Friday, the day on which Christians remember the death of Jesus on the cross. In churches throughout the world today, people will gather to listen to the story of Jesus’s death or to re-enact it in various ways. We will bring to mind what Jesus did on this day so many years ago and what a difference it makes for us now.
It’s certainly right on Good Friday to reflect on what Jesus did for us on the cross. There is nothing more sacred to recall, nothing more saving to imagine. What Jesus did for us is unmatched in mercy, grace, and sacrificial love.
While the gospels tell the story of what Jesus did on Good Friday, 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells the story of what God did on that day. This verse says, “For our sake [God the Father] made [Jesus Christ who is God the Son] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Christ] we might become the righteousness of God.” For centuries theologians have pondered the truth of these words, coming up with a variety of interpretations. But no matter how we parse the details, certain things seem abundantly clear.
First of all, in the death of Jesus, God was active. God the Father was relating to Jesus as if he had sinned, though he was sinless. Jesus, God the Son, was taking upon himself the sin of the world.
Second, as this happened, our sin was forgiven. On Good Friday human beings were enabled to enter into a right relationship with God, not on the basis of anything we did, but because of what God in Christ did for us. We were declared righteous, free from condemnation. We were made right, renewed in Christ. We were brought into a right relationship with God our Creator and Redeemer.
So, as we remember the death of Jesus today, we rightly recall the events of his Passion. As we do, let us also remember what God, the Triune God, was doing on Good Friday. God was taking our sin off of our shoulders and bearing it for us. God was paying the penalty for sin so that we might begin a right relationship with God, and through God, with other people. God was doing what we could never do on our own, making a way for us to live fully, fruitfully, and faithfully, even as God had intended from the beginning. On this day as you remember what Jesus did for us, remember too what God did and receive it with gratitude.
How do you respond to 2 Corinthians 5:21? What does it make you think? What feelings does it stir up in you?
When you think of your relationship with God, would you call it “right”? If so, why? If not, why not?
How might the memory of what Jesus did on this day so many years ago change the way you live today?
Do take time on this Good Friday to remember the death of Jesus. Join others in worship if you are able. If not, set aside some time for your personal reflection and prayer.
Gracious God, on Good Friday my words seem so shallow, so inadequate. How can I even begin to thank you for what you did on this day? For that matter, how can I even begin to understand it? Oh, I do believe what I read in Scripture. But I know that my comprehension is so limited compared to the vastness of your sacrifice, the immensity of your love.
Nevertheless, I thank you, gracious God, for what you did on this day. Jesus, God the Son, thank you for choosing to give up your life for my salvation. Heavenly Father, thank you for choosing to regard Jesus as if he were sin so that I might be forgiven. Holy Spirit, thank you for taking the historical events and their interpretation and making it real in my heart.
“Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” Amen.
Banner image by Rui Silva on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Day of Atonement.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.