We have all rejected God’s plan for us. Every one of us has turned away from him. Isaiah 53:6 Our abandonment of God’s way of love is what invites evil into our lives and our world. In all of our recorded history, we’ve seen that our way never works. We’ve seen that ruling our own world leads to poverty, oppression, abuse, disease – the ugly list goes on. Despite our culture’s faith in science, progress and the evolution of humanity, our state is as horrific as it’s ever been.
We’ve seen that where there is no punishment for evil, evil rules. It enslaves, oppresses and destroys. It takes possession of every human heart that gives even the smallest permission, consuming like a cancer until it kills. We see sin all around us and in us cause havoc through injustice, greed and selfishness. Because sin leads to pain and death, a loving God can’t accept that. Sin can’t be a part of his beautiful plan, so it must be excluded and destroyed. Which means that we, as people who have been claimed by sin, must be destroyed.
But the God who is perfectly just is also perfectly merciful: he desires both because of his fierce love for us. He found a way to transfer our debt to death onto himself, so that he could pay for it with his own life. Romans 4:25 | Mark 10:45 He sacrificed his perfect son so that we could be rescued from death. Romans 5:6-11 | 1 John 4:10 He has paid the debts of sinners so that they could be his sons, the penalty of delinquents so that they could be his daughters. John 1:12 | Hebrews 2:10-11 He defeated sin’s power over us when he defied death and returned to life, giving us the opportunity to enter real life – his life. Hebrews 2:14 | Titus 3:4-7
Imagine you have been caught speeding. You were going 140 kilometres per hour in a 100 zone, caught undeniably and dragged into court. With relief, you see that your dad is the judge appointed to your case. Knowing how much he loves you, you’re thinking that he’ll let you off.
Then you remember that your dad is a really good judge: he’s fair. He always punishes the innocent and never the guilty. He always upholds the laws that keep people safe. You’re starting to get nervous. You don’t doubt that he would want to show you mercy, but you can’t imagine him going against the law.
When your dad hears your case, he finds you guilty. He sentences you to a fine of $500 or time in jail. Since you don’t have enough money, the officials start to take you away.
But he tells them to wait. He stands up, takes off his robe and walks down from behind the bench. Then he reaches into his coat pocket, takes out his chequebook and writes the court a cheque for $500, the exact amount of your fine. Then he offers it to you.
This is what’s happened: he is just, so he declares you guilty, since you are. And he demands that a penalty be paid. But he loves you, so he has determined to pay that penalty himself, on your behalf.
The Bible says that God has declared us guilty, because we are, and demanded that a penalty be paid. Then he left heaven, came to earth, became a man, and died to pay our penalty. We didn’t owe a $500 penalty, so he didn’t just write a cheque. The Bible says that sin earns us a death penalty, so he died to pay that.
Then he comes to us to offer his life on our behalf. Just like your dad with the cheque, he stands before you and says, “I’ll take the blame for every bad thing you’ve ever done, and give you credit for my perfect life. All you need to do is accept it.”