The Cross: Where God’s Love and Justice Met

Once upon a time there were two friends who grew up on the same street in the same city. They were best friends throughout their childhood, but after high school their paths went different ways. One went on to college and studied law and became a lawyer. He climbed the ranks and eventually became a judge. The other sunk into a life of crime. One day, he was caught for theft and when he was summoned to appear in court, it turned out that that the judge presiding over his case was his long-time childhood friend. When his friend looked down from his chair he was torn as to what to do. On the one hand he loved his friend and wanted to see him go free. But, on the other hand he knew that as a judge it was his job to see that justice be paid for a crime. How could his love and justice both be met?

After some internal reflection he pounded down his gavel and announced the most severe fine possible, an amount that his friend would not be able to pay by himself. But then, he got up out of his chair, stepped down from the bench, and walked over to his friend. He took out his check book and wrote out a check for the exact amount that he had just fined his friend. “Here” he said, “I will pay the penalty for you because I love you.”

When I first heard that story recounted by Nicky Gumble (in the Alpha course), it made me realize how we are like helpless sinners before a holy Judge, who is God. And because God loves us, he made a way possible for our sins to be forgiven and dealt with. Because God is just, he can’t ignore our sin or just say, “I forgive you.” Sin requires a penalty, and the Bible says that the penalty of sin is “death” (Romans 6:23). But, God took it upon himself to pay that penalty himself, in the person of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today is Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ death on the cross. And we call it “good” because the cross was where God’s love and God’s justice perfectly met.  The cross was where God dealt with the greatest human problem, the problem of our sin. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So, God’s love is supremely seen in Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf.

But God’s justice is also seen. Romans 3:25 says that “God presented [Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement … He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” This verse tells us that God had been forgiving sins throughout the Old Testament but those sins had been “unpunished” in the fullest sense because “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). The daily and yearly animal sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed to the need of a permanent and perfect one. When Jesus died, he was the perfect sacrifice because he was the perfect God-man. As a human being, his death could pay the price that our sins deserve, which is death. But as God, his death could benefit everyone.

Have you personally received the benefit of what Jesus did? Like a gift, it must be received in order to benefit from it. Scripture says that we must receive Christ as our Savior and Lord in order for our sins to be forgiven. You must accept the check that God offers. If you’re never done that, please click here to learn more.




Categories Devotionals | Tags: , | Posted on March 29, 2013

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