My first post in the series A Universalist Looks at the New Testament covered II Corinthians 5. I didn’t necessarily give the greatest explanation for verse 21 — “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
I’m currently reading a book called Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, by J. D. Myers. It’s about the theology of the cross. I have just begun the book. I don’t know if the author is a universalist, but I do find myself agreeing with the theology. One thing I’m sure he’s teaching is that God is not mad at us, that Jesus did not die to save us from God.
Anyway, today I read a section talking specifically about II Corinthians 5:21, on pages 62-63. I’m going to copy out that section here. It’s out of context — but if you find it intriguing, I recommend reading the whole book.
This is an important text in the discussion of sin because Paul writes that Jesus became sin for us. When we think of sin as some sort of ethereal force which causes people to do bad things or as disobedience to God’s commands, this verse makes very little sense. If sin is a spiritual presence or polluting force brought about by disobedience to God, how can it be said in any way that Jesus “became sin”? But when we understand sin as rivalrous, scapegoating violence done in God’s name, we see that this is exactly what happened to Jesus on the cross. Every aspect of the passion narratives in the Gospels is designed to reveal that since Jesus was viewed as a rival to both religious Judaism and political Rome, He was chosen as a scapegoat to create peace among the people. Then, as often happens with scapegoats, Jesus was murdered in the name of God. So although Jesus never practiced sin and was completely innocent of all rivalry, scapegoating, and violence, He became sin for us (not for God!) so that we would see sin for what it really was. In Jesus, the sin of humanity — the rivalrous, scapegoating, and violence we commit in God’s name — was clearly revealed for all to see. He became sin! When we look at Him on the cross, we finally see our sin for what it really is. Through the crucifixion, sin was unveiled before our eyes so that we would see that all scapegoats were wrongly killed, that God was never behind our religious violence, and that God was calling all people to follow Him in loving forgiveness toward one another.