In Iran, it is standard practice for families to oversee the execution of one who murders a family member. They are also given the choice to pardon the offender. On April 15, 2014, Samereh Alinejad watched as a noose was slipped around the neck of Bilal Gheisari, her son’s killer. This was her chance to have the vengeance she’d waited seven years to have. Instead, she and her husband stepped forward at the last minute and removed the noose from his neck. It was an act of mercy and forgiveness.
Our family once had a bumper sticker that said, “Jesus paid a debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay.” That aptly describes the hopeless plight of every human since Adam. We were all born guilty sinners who commit sin every day. Because God is holy, just, and righteous, He cannot allow sin in His presence, nor can He allow sin to go unpunished. This means that our debt of sin set each of us on a path toward eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire. But God intervened. God the Father loved us so much that He sent His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to bear our sin and punishment on the cross of Calvary. Doing so enabled the Lord Jesus to offer forgiveness and eternal life to all who will trust in His payment for sin, apart from anything else. Ephesians 1:7 explain it this way: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” The word “redemption” means to ransom in full, or deliver, and “forgiveness” means freedom, pardon, or deliverance. The basis of our pardon and ransom is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only the lifeblood of an innocent victim can atone for sin. The Savior is the spotless Lamb of God, slain for our sins. In effect, we all stood guilty and condemned with the noose of eternal judgment on our necks, and Christ stepped forward to grant us forgiveness. So full is our forgiveness that we are released from eternal punishment, made acceptable to the Father, given access to His throne, given new abundant life, and showered with “all spiritual blessings” (Ephesians 1:2-12).
With a sense of deep gratitude, we should praise God continually for the complete forgiveness He has given us. Why not start right now in prayer and song?
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