But then again, suppose he didn’t go to jail at all. Suppose that after agonizing pain; after all that he held dear was torn from him because of what he had done, and after running from the law till he had wasted his life, what if he just went to the judge and offered himself up? Guilty, without one thing in the world left to hold onto, and not one plea of innocence, having committed a crime worthy of forever imprisonment, and then the judge just said, “You are free. Your debt has been cleared.” what if? What do you suppose the man’s response would be? Would he happily return to his former life?
Of course, I don’t need to wonder about these things any more. These things are happening all around me all the time. They even happen to myself. Have you ever wondered what our response to the freedom that has been given us looks like?
Nothing in the world could be worse than the crimes we’ve committed on a day to day basis; consciously and unconsciously; out of malice, out of ignorance, even for fun. Somehow we’ve managed not to upset the judges of this world. They would probably encourage us. But even if they didn’t, what could they do? How could they keep us from sinning? There is no prison that could cure, or sufficiently punish us. But we have an Almighty Judge, who holds the invisible key to every prison on earth and those in eternity; to every Chateau d’If and Barad Dur on earth and all of hell. But the hands that can close all doors can open all.
And it is that Judge, not any earthly judge of a little borrowed power, who see every sin that occurs within our hearts, by our hands, our mouths, and all that we use as instruments of evil, that has forgiven the unforgivable. Every human feeling or philosophy was overturned when He said, “You are free. Your name has been cleared.” at that, even though all of earth and hell rose up to declare that the man was guilty, and angels looked up with inquiring, albeit adoring faces, the chains fell from the bewildered and awestruck prisoner’s wrists. Freedom had been granted to the foulest criminals, who, though they had been loved and hated on earth, had their faces plastered on every wanted poster in Hades.
The judge in our example. Why would he grant the thief freedom and pardon? I have no idea. He probably had some inner self-serving motive. Maybe he wished to endear himself to the criminal so he could use him. Whatever it was, it was probably far from something to do with love for the criminal.
But that is the very reason that our Almighty Judge had! He loved us so much that He sent His own dear Son, who was part of Himself, to die on a cross and bear the awful punishment which was ours for all of eternity, because His Son’s death was the one thing, the only thing, that could possibly have obtained forgiveness for us. And He died a death devised by the most brilliant torturers in history, placed in their hearts, I believe, by God Himself for His Son. It was the most bloody, aching, painful torture the human mind has ever designed.
Our guilt was not wiped off of us, and then it just vanished; it was removed, and placed upon another. And all because of love. The gates of Heaven were thrown open by outstretched, nail-scarred hands.
But what does the criminal do? He will not return to his former life. He loves his Judge, now his Father, and His almighty Son, far to much for that. Where does he go from here?
I will deal with that in the next post.
Meanwhile, the Harris boys ( The Rebelution ) are doing an excellent series on death. If you want to stay online, you can go ahead and read it right here.