“Luther’s view of the cross began to change when he realized that Christ’s cry or scream [My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?] was the result of bearing human sin. Christ himself had not committed sin; he voluntarily took upon himself the entire sin of the world. This was not done only in a conceptual or theoretical way. Christ really and truly took sin upon himself, as if he had committed them in the first place…
Luther’s next step was to take the “logic” of the cross and apply it to his own situation. If Christ has the world’s sin on himself, then Luther’s own sin is on Christ as well. If Luther’s sin is borne by Christ, then he (Luther) is free of sin. If he is free of sin, then he is righteous. The very thing that Luther tried to obtain by all his labors in the monastery was given to him freely in Christ. Luther termed this the “happy exchange,” whereby Christ, out of love, traded his righteousness and purity to sinners and received from them their guilt and shame. It is a terribly “unjust” exchange, since our sin kills Christ while his righteousness yields life and freedom for undeserving sinners. But it is all accomplished by God in Christ by a remarkable and radical act of love.”
Mark D. Tranvik, Martin Luther’s Road to Freedom, pages 14-16.
“Luther’s next step” should always always be before us. It’s not only how we receive Christ, but the way to daily bread. It calls all attention to the Cross, where the sinless Son of God was orphaned, so that you might receive an indestructible adoption. Christ, taking our condemnation, earned for us every commendation from God. You, the ungodly, were united to Him, the radiance of the glory of God. Jesus is glad to share this with you. Which means, the very same love Abba has for his only Son… is now aimed directly at you. God desires you. He is proud of you. He loves you. Not your Pastor. Not people that keep it together. Not the best version of yourself. You. And you are just as much a success in His eyes today as you will ever be.
God speaks this Word of scandalous, sanctifying grace in his Son alone. His Word is his bond and it seats you where every accusation against you is turned into a footstool for your feet. It speaks a love uninterrupted by law. But, you won’t experience freedom if you keep changing the subject every time He brings it up. You won’t be able to enjoy it as long as you care more about getting better than you do about Jesus. Why? Because it’s your present belovedness in Christ that is the basis for all godly living. It’s through the announcement of the “already” power of justification that we enter into the joys of the “not yet” kingdom. Listen to what he thinks of you: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” These words belong to you now. They can no more be taken from you than removed from Christ himself.