As the apostle Paul wrote to encourage the church at
There is no greater example of loving sacrifice than that of Jesus Christ, and this verse expresses this truth beautifully. By inspiration, Paul shows us how the Lord willingly traded places with us, which was an act completely to our benefit and His own detriment.
Consider the Lord’s exalted place before He came to earth in the form of a man. He was with God the Father in heaven (John 1:1; 8:23). He had glory that was equal to that of the Father (John 17:5). He was equal to God in power and authority (Phil. 2:6). He had an eternal existence and nature without beginning or end, and He was not subject to death (John 1:1; 8:58; Rev. 1:8).
However, when the Lord came to earth, He “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). By emptying Himself, He gave up all of the glory that He possessed with the Father. Furthermore, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8).
Now consider our lost and hopeless condition before the Lord came to earth. We were separated from our most holy God by the sins we had committed (Isa. 59:2). We were vile and desecrated, dead subjects of Satan walking in sin (Eph. 2:1-3). We were powerless to escape the bondage of sin and due to receive sin’s wages (Rom. 6:16-23).
Yet when the Lord sacrificed Himself, He opened the way for us to enter the kingdom of heaven and the presence of the Father (John 10:1-18; 14:1-8). He gave us hope of eternal glory (1Pet. 1:7) and everlasting life (John 3:16). He gave to us access to riches and power beyond anything this world has known (Eph. 1:18-21).
Indeed, Christ traded places with us. He left the presence of the Father to make us holy so that we might enter God’s presence. He gave up His glory and put on flesh so that we might escape the defilement of the flesh and be exalted. He gave up the riches of heaven and came to earth so that we might leave this world and receive the riches of heaven. He gave up His life (Heb. 2:14-18) so that we might have eternal life.
Most directly, the Lord traded places with us in that He interceded for us and received the punishment for the sins that we committed. “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging, we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). When Christ hung on the cross, He took our place. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (
Stacey E. Durham
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