This might sound a bit shocking to most of you, but put yourself in these shoes and bear with me. What if you were a murderer, rapist, thief, or child molester … all terribly atrocious, sinful identities. Then you get caught, have a trial, and are found guilty. Your sentence is proclaimed – DEATH! You now anxiously await execution.
Just as they are getting your humane, but very lethal injection ready, the warden runs in to stop everything just in the nick of time. He lets you know of a true and amazing miracle … no one has ever seen anything like it.
He excitedly explains what just happened starting with the basics. The penalty for your crime is death. The accuser (Satan) and justice demand a price to be paid, namely, death. Satan wants it to be you. A perfect person (Jesus), who owed no penalty, has voluntarily taken your place and will be executed in your place. You are now free to go and live. Your penalty is Paid in Full (the first blessing). What a great day.
But if that were the end of the story, it wouldn’t really be that great. You see, who really wants to date, befriend, hire, hangout with, or marry a convicted murderer, rapist, thief, or child molester? We all we judge, avoid, are fearful of, and attack these sinners. Your life, although spared, would be a walking death of isolation, ridicule, obstacles, loneliness, and never-ending effort to prove yourself worthy of a second chance.
This is where the even more amazing, second blessing comes from above. The King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, Almighty Creator of everything actually wants to hang out with you, date you, and even marry you forever. He trusts you with His kids, and His valuable possessions. Most of all, He really loves you above all things and wants to get to know you intimately regardless of your sins, past, present, and future.
Today, try to see you the way God sees you. How much different could your life be? Now look at God with the gratitude and love that He deserves for all the grace and double blessing He extends to you (if we could even muster 1/1000 the love He gives us – wow). Accept His instruction and I guarantee, actually, He guarantees, your life will be grander beyond compare. Be glad the story doesn’t end with forgiveness, and rejoice in His second blessing of imputed righteousness.
Dear Gracious and Merciful Father, I confess my sinful ways before You and thank You for Your forgiveness. Thanks for not giving up on me and for relentlessly pursuing me, especially when I stray way off course. Thanks for the nudging You give me to get back on track, even though at times I see it as adversity. I now realize You were trying to catch my attention and get me back on the right path toward true peace, freedom, and contentment in Your ways and arms. Please help me be a grateful prodigal son and not be resentful of other prodigals whom You also forgive. I pray this in the name of the One who paid for me, died for me, and pursued me, Jesus Christ. And all God’s children say – AMEN!
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.