Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 29, 2012

"Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:1-8
I want you to imagine this scenario. You are the proud parent of a teen-aged son and a daughter who is also in her teens. They are both good students and active in church and school events.
One day you and your spouse are at work while your son is at ball practice. Your lovely teen daughter is at home alone. Someone breaks into the house to rob it and discovers her there alone, surprises her, assaults her and then brutally murders her. Following that heinous act he returns to emptying your house of every valuable item he can find.
You are the one who comes home to find your house ransacked and then make the horrible discovery of your daughter's lifeless savaged body.
This is a parent's worst nightmare! How could anything be much worse than this?
Fortunately, the thief and murderer is arrested and brought to trial. During the trial you find out more about this criminal and begin to understand some of the factors in his life that shaped him into such a cruel person. You begin to feel a bit of compassion for him yet you are thankful that he is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt and convicted of murder and grand larceny.
A month later when he is sentenced to die by legal injection you feel that justice has been served but there is also a sense of sadness over it.
During the several years that he is on death row you make repeated efforts to reach out to him but every request is denied by him. In fact, he shows no remorse but taunts you by saying he is glad he did it, he enjoyed it and he would do it again if he had the chance.

The years drag by until the day of his execution arrives. At the stroke of midnight he is to be administered a lethal dose of drugs through an injection that will end his life and carry out the justice demanded of him by the court and the legal system.

You, your wife and your son are ushered in to the small cramped room where the execution is to happen. It is a few minutes before midnight and he had been strapped to the gurney and the tubes are being inserted that will transport the lethal toxins into his body.

He refuses when asked if he wants to make a final statement. The warden turns to you and asks if there is anything you would want to say to the condemned man. You reply, "Yes, there is. My family wants him to know we have forgiven him for this terrible thing he did. In fact, my son and I have discussed this at length and decided we want him to be free from his guilt and condemnation. For that to happen, my son offers himself to be strapped to the gurney and receive the lethal dose instead of this convicted criminal. That will satisfy the demands of justice and carry out the remedy prescribed by the court."

The shocked warden responds, "This is highly unusual. This is very unusual. Are you sure this is what you want to do?"

You and your son both affirm this as your will.

"Okay, then," concedes the warden, "Release the prisoner and take this young man into custody to prepare him for execution."

Broken-hearted, you watch as the lethal dosage is pumped into your son causing him excruciating suffering until the life drains out of him.

"A ridiculous story," you protest! "Who would even consider doing such a thing?"

I wouldn't!

You wouldn't!

But that is precisely what God did! At just the right moment He sent His Son, Who willing left heaven to suffer the penalty for your sins and mine! We were guilty. He was innocent. He suffered a cruel and shameful death sentence in our place to satisfy the just demands of a Holy God.

That is how good He is! That is how much He loves you! That is how much He wants to live in a loving relationship with you!

And that is how bad sin is! That is how ugly and disgusting it is to cause an innocent man to die a painful death so you and I could be set free from the death penalty imposed by sin.

It was in a stable in Bethlehem where a teen-aged by and his teen-aged wife gave birth to the Son of God Who came to take away the sins of the world! Jesus, the Savior, born to die for you and for me!

Glory in the highest!

But this is a gift that must be received! Have you received it?