Sermonette: Amazing grace for all
Don’t complain about
fairness; Jesus paid a debt he did not owe
Imagine a world where everything is fair, just and right.
How many times have you thought “it’s not fair” in the past month? Let’s face the facts: Life in this fallen, sinful world is not always fair. I’m sure we all can eloquently rehearse many situations in which we have come up on the short end of the fairness stick.
Undoubtedly, the greatest example of unfairness was the way Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God in human flesh, was treated. The Bible says, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). Christ never sinned, yet he was treated as a common criminal. He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the multitudes and showed God’s love to everyone, yet he was whipped, beaten and crucified.
Let’s consider how unfair the “trial” of Jesus was before the religious lawmen of Israel (Matthew 26:57-27:2). It was held in the wrong location (the high priest’s house instead of the temple) and at the wrong time (middle of the night). All trials were to be started, performed and completed during the day. Furthermore, it was held in secret. Criminal trials were to be public.
This “trial” was held without a clear charge against the accused and failed to produce reliable witnesses to even allow it to continue (verses 60 and 61; Deuteronomy 19:15-21). When some “witnesses” were found, they were not examined separately or even solemnly charged with the seriousness of the situation as the law required.
The judge – Caiaphas, the high priest – was not supposed to control the trial personally, could not force the accused to testify against himself and was never to tear his clothing in a false dramatic display of horror (Leviticus 21:10). The judge’s job was to try and defend the accused but never instigate the charges, while making sure that evidence for one’s innocence also was presented.
Even the voting procedure was done illegally. The vote was to be taken individually, starting with the youngest to the oldest, and a unanimous vote indicated an acquittal not a conviction. Any remaining sense of fairness and equity was squashed when the lawmen turned abusive and inhumane as they mercilessly beat, spit on and ridiculed Christ.
Finally, a death sentence needed to be made on two separate days. Ironically, there was only about 18 hours between the arrest and the execution of Jesus by the Roman soldiers. Where was fairness in all of this since every biblical and civic law for trials was broken. Surely this demanded a retrial.
We have not even mentioned the cruelty of how Jesus was scourged – whipped to shreds with a cat of nine tails – and crucified. Just watch “The Passion of the Christ” if you think that was fair.
However, the unfair, barbaric, brutal treatment of Christ was not about fairness and justice, but rather it was about God’s love, grace, mercy and compassion for us as lost sinners eternally separated from himself and heaven. Jesus was no mere puppet or victim; he willingly chose to give his life for the salvation and redemption of mankind (John 10:18). 1 Peter 3:18 tells us that Jesus, the just and innocent savior, suffered for us, the unjust and guilty, so that he might bring us to God.
If life was about fairness, we would never have a chance before a perfect God because we all have sinned against him (Romans 3:23) and deserve hell rather than heaven (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid a debt he did not owe, because we have a debt of sin we can never, ever pay. Our perfect judge took our eternal sentence. Because he drank down the cup of God’s judgment against sin (Matthew 26:39) to the last horrible, unfair drop, we can be forgiven, declared righteous and have eternal life in heaven.
God is just, righteous and fair with sinners, but praise God, his grace and love opens heaven’s door to all of us. However, the choice is now up to us individually whether to repent of our sins and trust Jesus alone for forgiveness of sin and eternal life (John 3:16, 36; 10:9-10; 14:6) or to reject his gracious offer and stand before him some day as our judge. (Oh, yes, he is alive and well in heaven.) The work of redemption is finished and completed (John 19:30). The choice is now yours. Fair enough?
The next time you assert that “it’s not fair,” think about how Jesus was treated. It wasn’t fair at all for him, but it sure is amazing grace for us all.
Bob Kulp is pastor of Grace Brethren Church of Washington, 4 Waynesburg Road.