Two people went through school and university together and developed a close friendship. Life went on and they went their separate ways and lost contact. One went on to become a judge, while the other's life spiralled down and he ended up as a criminal. One day the criminal appeared before the judge. He had committed a crime to which he pleaded guilty. The judge recognised his old friend and faced the dilemma, which, in effect, God faces. He was a judge so he had to be just; he couldn't simply let the man off. On the other hand, he wanted to be merciful, because he loved his friend. So he fined him the correct penalty for the offence. That was justice. Then he came down from his position as judge and wrote a cheque for the amount of the fine. He gave it to his friend, saying that he would pay the penalty for him. That was an act of mercy, love and sacrifice.
The differences between the story and Christ (paraphrased):
- The penalty was worse than that for us,
- The cost was higher than any fine and
- The love was deeper than just two friends (it was the love of The Father) that paid our cost.
Nicky Gumbel, Bible In One Year Devotional Day 15, courtesy of HTB in London, www.bibleinoneyear.org for more info.