You are in a courtroom as the defendant. Your head and heart drop as the judge reads the verdict, guilty. You want to jump up and proclaim “I didn’t do it!” but you’re glued to the chair. Guilty. One word seals your fate. A life sentence you can’t get out of. Your freedom is gone.
You hang your head and wait. Too numb to move.
A shadow crosses the table. Someone’s in front of you. You don’t look up. The person lays a piece of paper on the table and walks away.
The judge finally declares the penalty. It’s an amount so high you could never pay it. Your shoulders sag. It’s hopeless.
You realize the judge tells you look at the piece of paper in front of you. A check. What? A glimmer of hope. You pick it up and realize it’s for the exact amount of the sentence.
The impossible just became possible, but how? Who? One look at who wrote the check brings confusion.
The judge asks you to bring the check to him for payment. You bring it up slowly, unsure. After taking the check the judge stamps it “PAID IN FULL” in big, red letters.
The judge declares “Your penalty is paid. You are free to go.” What? How can this be you wonder.
Your attorney calls you back to the table and explains. “While your head was down in shame, the judge got up, took off his robe, got his checkbook, wrote the check, placed it on the table in front you, went back up, put his robe back on and sat down again behind the bench. He paid your penalty with his personal check. You are free.”
This courtroom scene is exactly what happened on the cross. God pays your penalty for sin through Jesus on the cross. Your guilty verdict has been paid for. You have fallen short and guilty in God’s sight. Yet through faith in the cross you are forgiven and justified.
You’re probably asking what it means to be forgiven and justified so let’s dive into what both of those mean.
God forgives (wipes away) sins through faith in the Jesus on the cross (1 John 1:9).
In addition to forgiving sins, God also justifies you. Justification is God’s righteous act of removing the guilt and penalty of your sin while, at the same time, declaring you to be righteous.
So you are more than just a forgiven sinner. You are justified as well. You are declared righteous by God. That is truly good news!
Contemplate this week what it means to be justified by God. How does that make you look at the cross differently?
I will leave you with two verses to meditate on.
“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God,” 1 Corinthians 6:11.
“So that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life,” Titus 3:7.