Paid in Full

Jesus on the cross with nail and hand in foreground

He (Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world 1 John 2:2. (NIV)

Czar Alexander loved to disguise himself as a commoner in order to mingle with his subjects. On one of his outings he visited the army barracks and, passing a tent, observed a young officer slumped at a table, sound asleep. Something drew the Czar in to take a closer look and as he peered over the soldiers shoulder he saw a revolver and a sheet of paper with a long list of gambling debts. Below the column of figures the soldier had written, “Who can pay so much?”

The Czar was no fool. It was obvious the young officer had gambled away everything he had. Now, deeply in debt, he had no way to meet his obligations. The only way out was to use the revolver and bring his life to an end. After writing the words, “Who can pay so much?” he had fallen asleep but would soon awake and then . . .

The Czar’s first thought was to report him, but then he recognized the young man as the son of a friend. So, changing his mind, he took the pen lying next to the paper, dipped it in the ink, then wrote “Alexander” underneath the question, “Who can pay so much?”

Some time later the young officer awoke, picked up the revolver, and with grim determination raised the barrel to his temple. Before pulling the trigger he glanced at the list of debts for the last time, and as he did he saw that something else had been written after the question, “Who can pay so much?” It was Alexander’s name. Dropping the revolver, he snatched up the paper with a mixture of bewilderment and joy.

Early the next morning a messenger arrived from the palace with a bag of money and greetings from the Czar. To the ruble, his debts were paid in full.

Like the young officer, we too have a list of debts that can never be paid. It’s the debt of sin, and in much the same way as the soldier couldn’t pay his debt, there is no way we can pay our debt. It’s a dismal situation and appears to be a dead end (cf. Romans 6:23).

But impossibilities become possibilities with God. There is One who can pay the debt. One greater than Czar Alexander. One who has in fact already paid for the sin of all humankind and has paid it in full. For Jesus “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” 1 John 2:2. That’s good news! In Jesus our debt of sin is cancelled once and for all. It simply remains for us to accept His gift through faith. So “confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,” and “you will be saved” Romans 10:9.

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