Imagine you stumble across a room with shelf upon shelf of index cards. Your curiosity gets the better of you and you start flipping through them. They number and describe all the thoughts, words and actions of an arbitrary person. As read, you realize that the person is not arbitrary at all. These cards are all about you.
This briefly describes the beginning of a powerful story I heard last weekend, by Joshua Harris. It explains in a new way what Jesus did for us. (Read it for yourself, here.)
One thing that this story impressed on me is that everything I ever do, say and even think is accounted for. God sees and knows it all, and He demands payment for every careless thought, word and action.
This sets the stage for our topic of discussion this week:
#1. They enabled us to escape punishment
I have sinned many times over. As a consequence, I stand guilty before God and my sins must be paid for. My punishment is to die and to be separated from God forever (hell). But when Jesus died on the cross, I was allowed to go free.
Just like me, you’re guilty before God. I don’t have to know you personally to be able to say that because it’s true of everyone. But you were also allowed to escape punishment when Jesus died on the cross.
However, this doesn’t apply by default. It is a gift only for those who actively trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is grace: getting something good that we don’t deserve.
#2. They ensured that justice is maintained
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
– Isaiah 30:18
“…the LORD longs to be gracious to you.” That’s the grace mentioned in point #1. But there’s a problem. When God gives us something good that we don’t deserve, He’s doing it at the risk of His own character. “For the LORD is a God of justice.“
Justice means that God must execute punishment where it is due. When Jesus died on the cross, he was being punished on our behalf. We are only allowed to go free because someone took it for us. Jesus’ death ensured that Justice is maintained.
#3. They allow us to enter into a living relationship with God
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
– John 1:12
Remember how part of our punishment is separation from God forever? For those who trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection for their salvation, being saved from the punishment of hell is only the beginning. God adopts us. Now that your punishment has been dealt, you can talk with and interact with God as your Father.
Better still, this relationship extends beyond death and into eternity. When Jesus rose from the dead, He beat it; overcame and conquered it – not just for himself, but on our behalf as well. That’s why you will rise to life again after you die, if indeed you have trusted in Jesus.
In summary, Jesus’ death enabled us to escape punishment while ensuring that justice is maintained and his resurrection allowed us to enter into a living relationship with God that lasts forever.
Now, let me leave you with some resources and some questions to keep you thinking:
For more on:
- The heart-wrenching story I mentioned above: Read the full story.
- How Jesus’ death and resurrection can affect us when they happened so long ago that they bearly seem relevant: I have another post that discusses that.
- Isaiah 30 (quoted above): This is my favorite chapter of Isaiah, right now. Read here about how God desires to be gracious and compassionate towards the children of Israel, even though they keep resisting Him.
Now for the questions I promised:
- Do you connect with the story of “the Room”? (Again, I *highly* recommend you read it here if you haven’t already.)
- What is a “living” relationship with God?
- Do you want to be adopted as God’s child?
Don’t forget to leave your answers on this page as a comment.