How Can It Be?

My sermon this Sunday will come from our reading today from 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. That is a littler surprising because the end of the chapter has my favorite verse and preaching text in all the Bible--

God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

That captures the miracle of the cross and the great exchange of grace in one short verse. Jesus took upon Himself our sin so that we could take upon ourselves His righteousness. The One who was sinless became sin so that the sinful could become “the righteousness of God.” That is the gospel! The God who created us left heaven’s throne to suffer the pain, humiliation, and rejection for the cross in order to save us from ourselves. In some way somewhere between metaphor and reality, God took on Himself our sinfulness so that we could become His righteousness. We will never, ever doubt how much God loves us if we will just keep our eyes on the cross.

John Wesley’s preaching was the theological force behind the Reformation in England, but it was his brother’s hymns that drove its worship renewal. Charles Wesley began to write his first of 6500 hymns the day after his conversion. He read Psalm 40:3, “He has put a new song in my mouth…” He yearned for God to give him a new song, and he began to write. His journal contains this entry for May 23, 1738—

At noon I began a hymn on my conversation but was persuaded to break off for fear of pride.... I prayed Christ to stand by me and finish the hymn.

That song was finished and published under the title “Free Grace” but would come to be known as “And Can It Be.” It’s had several different tunes and different arrangements. This a cappella arrangement (which we sing often) is my absolute favorite song to sing before or during communion to remind me of God’s amazing love--

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in my Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, scorned his perfect love.

You left Your Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite Your grace;
Emptied Yourself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race;

Boldly I come before your throne
To claim Your mercy immense and free
No greater love will e’re be known,
For O my God it found out me

Amazing love! How can it be
That You, my God, should die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
That You, my God, should die for me?