Imagine you are a warrior that sneaks your way into a rival Kingdom. A Kingdom that you despise. Loath. Hate. You are praised by your people for infiltrating the Kingdom, and you are glorified for mocking the rulers of that nation.
While in the realms of the Kingdom, you make it a point to break every rule, resist all authority, and destroy all you can. You degrade the people, you rob and destroy and disrespect. You murder all who try to stand up to you. You take great joy in ruining all that you can find within the Kingdom; disgracing the authority and criticizing the nation. The longer you terrorize the nation, the more you are praised by your people.
After years of evading capture, antagonizing the locals and degrading all authority, you are finally caught red-handed. You are seized by authority and brought before the rulers of the land. You are soaked in the blood of those you have murdered and robed in the garments you stole and the jewels you confiscated. You are guilty, beyond a shadow of a doubt. And the penalty for your crimes is death.
Not a simple and swift death. A gruesome, humiliating, painful, slow death. A death that kills you before your life is taken–a death that degrades you, pains you, rapes your dignity and spirit in a calculated, excruciating manner. This is your penalty. This is how you will die.
But as you kneel before the rulers of the nation, head hung in shame, awaiting your gruesome verdict, you feel a hand rest on your shoulder. When you look up you see the Prince of the Kingdom has risen from his throne and stands in front of you before the King. Before your fate can be sealed, the Prince takes a stance in your favor.
“Take my life, instead,” you hear the Prince say. “I will die in his place.”
You are stunned. Confused. Speechless. You had never met the Prince before this moment. You had never spoken with him or done anything for him or done anything for his people. Choking back tears and stumbling to catch your breath, you ask a humbled ‘why’?
The Prince simply replies, “Because I love you.”
Though you can see the King’s heart is broken, he nods in approval and your life is spared.
The Prince dies in your place.
A gruesome, humiliating, painful, slow death. A death that kills him before his life is taken–a death that degrades him, pains him, rapes his dignity and spirit in a calculated, excruciating manner. This is YOUR penalty. Yet this is how HE dies–even though He did nothing wrong. He simply offered to save you.
After the Prince’s death, you stand face-to-face with the King again. Your clothes are no longer blood-stained. You have been bathed, fed, cared for and groomed. You stand in front of the King–a King who has just watched his own son die in your place–free of all charges. You are found innocent. Acquitted on all counts.
Then, something unique happens. Rather than being escorted from the Kingdom and taken back to your people, you are welcomed to stay. Not simply to stay in the land–you are welcomed into the Royal Family. Your life is not only spared, you are invited into the castle and crowned as royalty.
After everything you did to their Kingdom and their people, they forgive you. They call you one of their own. You sit in the Highest Court.
Humbly, you hang your head in shame and again ask why…
“Because we love you,” the King replies.
“What did I do to deserve this freedom? What did I do to earn it?” you ask.
“Because we love you.”
Did you enjoy that story?
Does it sound familiar?
That is love.
That is salvation.
THAT IS THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”