This post originally appeared in Daily Grace: The Mockingbird Devotional, Vol. 2. Get your copy today!
He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21)
Jesus did not come proclaiming a message that made people better. His errand wasn’t to dangle an elusive “better version of you” in order to inspire you to become better. Because there is no such thing. Instead, he gives you his very righteousness. He gives you his body and blood. He gives you himself.
Jesus came proclaiming death and resurrection. His ministry was all about opening people’s eyes to their true misery and his marvelous mercy that meets them in their misery. That meets them where they are. In their wretchedness. In their shortcomings. In their not-enough-ness. Jesus’s gospel dispossesses us of our cancerous, competitive spirits and shepherds us to find pasture in his enough-ness.
There is, perhaps, no better specimen than the spokesman himself, the apostle Paul. As he journey on the Damascus Road, he ventured with the confidence of a righteous enterprise. His was an errand from on high, or so he perceived. It took nothing short of the blinding radiance of Jesus’s glory to open his eyes to his despondency. From then on, Paul was gripped by what he then knew: that there was no measure to his sin, but, even better, there was no measure to the righteousness by which Jesus saves sinners. (1 Cor 2:2; 1 Tm 1:15)
The good news which transfixed Paul is the good news we have today, which tells us that the full measure of God’s righteousness is yours because of the death of his Son. Your identity is not tethered to the grandiloquence of your career, the success of your kids, the “Instagram-worthy-ness” of your marriage, or the fitness of your physique. Against even these laws, we are impotent at measuring up, let alone a law that demands perfect holiness. (Mt 5:48)
In the exhausted din of not-enough-ness comes Jesus’s good news, according to which Christ himself was made sin. He became the very worst of us that we might become his best.
Therefore, your identity is no longer in anything you acquire or accomplish. Rather, it is found in the life, death, and resurrection of God’s only begotten Son, the One who loves the weak and the foolish, the small and the ordinary. And in that weakness and smallness is found the power and wisdom of God. (1 Cor 1:24–25) No smidgen of that is left up to you. It is finished. Today, his righteousness is yours.