For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.~ 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)
When I was a young boy, I loved trading baseball cards. My friends and I couldn’t wait to ride our bicycles down to the local convenient store, head over to the candy and snack isle, find just the right pack of cards, buy them, only to rip them open, toss the rectangle piece of gum in our mouth, and start swapping those magical cardboard treasures. I can recall the happiness and satisfaction many of my childhood days brought trading simple baseball cards.
This passage in 2 Corinthians 5 speaks to another kind of trade, a swapping of sorts; to what theologians call double imputation. In the drama of redemption, Jesus doesn’t merely take upon Himself our sin, He gives us His righteousness. In other words, our sins are imputed (meaning they are accounted towards) to Christ, while His goodness, His righteous is imputed, or accounted, to us. We trade our sin for His goodness. This is the gracious trade-off in salvation.
Now when I traded those baseball cards as a youngster, I was always trying to get a good deal. I wanted to trade up. Each one of us, as we sat in those circles of intense negotiations, desired to trade our cards for better ones. But when Jesus Christ traded His righteousness for our sin, He certainly got a raw deal. While we get His goodness, He inherited, through imputation, our sin. Because of His great love, Jesus willingly traded with those who only have our sin to give.
And this alone should give all those who are trusting in Christ for our salvation pause. Here is the foundation of our reconciliation to God! Here is the sum and substance of Christ’s redeeming work on our behalf! He took our sin and traded that for His own righteousness. This should stir our hearts as nothing else. It should move the sinner to love, worship, and praise Him who traded everything glorious with those who had only sin to give Him in return.