We do well at times to remind ourselves of the implied metaphors contained in ordinary speech and speech patterns.
For example, the common expression which conveys a sudden understanding is highly metaphorical:
Oh, I see what you mean.
What exactly is being seen in this example. If in context, an interlocutor has just finished explaining a hard-for-you-to-understand concept (say, the meaning of the word made in 2 Corinthians 5:21), you could say at least one of two things:
- Frankly, I don't see what you mean.
- Oh, I see what you're getting at.
My point is simply this: When we use the word see in the above ways, we are not talking about a literal seeing, but a metaphorical seeing. I may see your lips moving as you explain what the word made means in context, and I can literally see your body language as you use your hands, for example, to gesticulate and perhaps emphasize a point you are making.
What I do not see in that instance, however, I do see metaphorically. To see something in that sense means
- to understand
- to get insight (notice the element of seeing in the word insight)
- to experience a mental breakthrough (another metaphor)
- to grasp (another metaphor) a paradigm, if only momentarily in a evanescent moment (a "Now you see it, now you don't" moment)
Take another use of a different word, the word make. A biblical illustration which came to me as I was pondering your question is the use of the word make in the expression "to make sport of," which is used, for example, in 1 Chronicles 10:4; Job 30:1; Psalm 104:26; and Habakkuk 1:10.
Then Saul said to his armour-bearer, ‘Draw your sword and thrust me through with it, so that these uncircumcised may not come and thrust me through, and make sport of me.’ But his armour-bearer was unwilling; for he was terrified. So Saul took his own sword and fell upon it (1 Chronicles 10:4 NRSV Anglicized, my emphasis).
We might ask, "In what sense is Saul being made a sport of?" Perhaps other words come to mind which explain or expand upon how the expression is used. We might think, for instance, Saul is being
- made an object of derision
- being put down and made to feel small in the eyes of others
Saul was not made into the game of basketball, or lacrosse, or some other organized way of having fun while getting exercise in an activity governed by certain rules. Rather, Saul was metaphorically "made" into something he was not. He was made a king by the prophet Samuel, but now he is in danger of being made sport of by his enemies, so he commits suicide.
All this to say, Jesus was not made to be sin in a literal fashion but in a metaphorical fashion. He was once one thing (viz., the perfect and sinless lamb of God) but now he is another (a sin bearer).
Need we go further and ask "In what sense did Jesus bear the sins of the world. Were they literally on his shoulders while he hung on the cross?" No. What happened at the cross was this: God imputed our sins to Jesus and at the same time made possible Jesus' righteousness to be imputed to us. A double imputation, as it were.
In conclusion, there is no need in this instance to attempt to discern a deeper or hidden meaning to the word made. Being aware of the metaphorical nature of words in general and the metaphorical nature of the word made in particular, is all that is needed. Biblical hermeneutics, in general, is a map, and a map is not the territory. Words are symbols, and they stand for (and in some sense take the place of) reality. Words are not the reality.