What a profound truth, what stupendous grace, what wondrous mystery those words contain! "He," God the Father, "Hath," in holy justice and infinite mercy, "Made," by divine imputation, "Him," the Lord Jesus Christ, his infinite, well-beloved, only begotten, immaculate Son, "To be sin," an awful mass of iniquity, "For us," helpless, condemned, sinful rebels!
"The heart of the gospel is redemption, and the essence of redemption is the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ" (C.H. Spurgeon). 2 Corinthians 5:21 reveals the vital truth of the gospel. Substitution is the foundation truth of Christianity, the rock upon which our hopes are built. This is the only hope of the sinner, and the joy of every true believer. "He hath made him to be sin for us!"
This is the greatest transaction that ever took place upon the earth, the most marvelous sight that men ever saw, and the most stupendous wonder that heaven ever executed. Jesus Christ was made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Jesus Christ, the spotless Son of God, was made to be sin!
This transaction that took place at Calvary two thousand years ago--The great substitutionary work of Christ, the mighty transfer of sin from the sinner to the sinner’s Surety--The punishment of the Surety in the sinner’s place--The pouring out of the vials of Divine wrath, which were due to us upon the head of our Substitute--is the only ground upon which the holy Lord God can be, as he describes himself, both "a just God and a Savior."
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was made to be sin for us. No man living upon this earth will ever really understand this truth. Yet, I hope that we will be gripped by the glorious reality of it. Oh, may God cause it to get hold of our hearts! The doctrine of substitution is the great truth of Holy Scripture. It must be plainly and incessantly declared. My first message to you was on substitution. It was taken from this text. I have not deviated from it one hair’s breadth. God helping me, I never intend to be moved from it. Substitution will be the one, constant, glorious theme of this pulpit for as long as I have strength to occupy it. The gospel of Christ will not be pushed aside as an old piece of furniture in this house of worship. Where we began we must remain. The glorious gospel of substitutionary redemption is the strength, the glory, and the life of this church.