Listen to this devotional:
John 18:30 – "If he were not a criminal," they replied, "we would not have handed him over to you." (NIV)
Two years after we were married, my husband took a second job as a social worker. His main duty was to supervise teens and plan activities at a teen centre. Despite well-meaning programs, the teens still got into trouble. Sometimes, they even used a dance as an occasion for a street-gang fight. This usually meant that the police made an arrest or someone got hurt. For the rest of their lives, these teenagers bore the physical and emotional scars of their actions.
As the teens bore the consequences of their criminal activities, even so, we often bear the consequences of our own poor choices. A lost temper can cause dread and kill love. Dangerous driving causes crashes. Thoughtless actions explode with consequences.
Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (NIV)
Sin is as abhorrent to the Lord as a gang fight is to us. All sin is criminal in God's eyes, not just sins such as gang violence, grand theft larceny, or murder. God does not separate sin into categories. What we call mistakes and dismiss with a shrug, our heavenly Father calls sin. This means that in God's eyes, all human beings are like criminals. But because God loves us enormously, He did something about it.
Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV)
God in Christ Jesus came into our sin-strafed world to set it right. He took the criminal charge upon Himself and bore the death sentence that we rightly deserve. Jesus died, as if He were a criminal, between two criminals. He did it for us, so that justice would be served and that we would be freed from the hold of sin. All we need to do is to ask God's forgiveness in Jesus' name and mean it. When we do, He promises our lives will change forever.
Prayer: Lord God, this sin-strafed world causes us to cringe. Although we would like to think that our deeds are less serious, we admit that we have sinned and deserve to suffer the consequences. We ask for pardon through the blood of Jesus. We want to be set free to live as Your Word demands. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, and enable us to follow Your ways, for we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.