Several years ago, I greatly enjoyed reading the book Perlas Grandes. In the story, a boy unknowingly commits a great crime while on an island nation, a crime that is punishable by death. The law of the island had one way for him to be saved. A person’s father could offer himself as a substitute. This boy’s father chose to offer himself as a substitute. So the father was thrown into the great whirlpool, and the son was set free. The son paid no other penalty for his crime. He was treated as if he had never committed the crime in the first place. The father, who had not committed the crime at all, bore the full punishment. Although he was innocent, he was the only one punished for the crime his son had committed (although that is not the end of his part in the story).
I remembered this story and the great exchange that took place between father and son when I thought of 2 Corinthians 5:21, which says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” This verse is one of the clearest and fullest descriptions of the great exchange that takes place between Christ and the one who turns to Him for salvation. Christ knew now sin; He was tempted like we were, but He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15; 7:26-27). Christ, who was perfectly sinless, became sin (took the punishment of sin) for us. Like the father in Perlas Grandes, Christ paid for crimes that He never committed. He fully and completely took our sin on Himself. His death on the cross was to pay the penalty that we owed. But He took it completely. In return for taking our sin, He gave us His righteousness. God demands that we be perfectly righteous in order to enter heaven and spend eternity with Him. We cannot produce this righteousness on our own (Philippians 3:4-11). So the only way for us to be righteous enough for us to enter heaven is to be credited with the righteousness of Christ. Christ did live a perfectly righteous, sinless life. This is the great exchange of 2 Corinthians 5:21. Christ takes our sin and pays for it, so that we do not have to pay the eternal consequences of sin. In return, Christ gives us His righteousness, crediting it to us as our very own so that we can have the righteousness we need. This is the only way that we can have our sin forgiven and receive eternal life from Christ. This is the great exchange that God freely offers to us.
His Robes For Mine
His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!
Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.
Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.
In Christ I live, for in my place He died.
I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:
Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.
Bought by such love, my life is not my own.
My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.
His robes for mine: what cause have I for dread?
God’s daunting Law Christ mastered in my stead.
Faultless I stand with righteous works not mine,
Saved by my Lord’s vicarious death and life.
His robes for mine: God’s justice is appeased.
Jesus is crushed, and thus the Father’s pleased.
Christ drank God’s wrath on sin, then cried “‘Tis done!”
Sin’s wage is paid; propitiation won.
His robes for mine: such anguish none can know.
Christ, God’s beloved, condemned as though His foe.
He, as though I, accursed and left alone;
I, as though He, embraced and welcomed home!
“His Robes For Mine”
By Chris Anderson and Greg Habegger