Well, we arrived on Hilton Head Island this evening and checked into the resort. All is well and we are getting ready to head to bed. It was something of a long drive today. I guess that we could have pushed it and done it all in one day, but that just wasn’t the prudent thing to do – especially with three kids in the car.
There was a rock slide in southern Kentucky and that has created something of a mess for traffic heading into Knoxville. AAA warned us about it before we started and we were able to take a detour to at least keep moving. So this morning, we got off to a slow but beautiful start – driving through the small towns and watching with amazement the beauty of God’s creation. It took us almost 2-1/2 hours to travel the same distance we should have been able to do in an 1-1/2 hours, but it was an unexpected chance to really see some of God’s great handiwork.
Janet always prefers to take the side roads when possible – you just get to see so much more. Admittedly, when you are trying to drive 800 miles in two days and make some real progress, it could have been frustrating, but we dealt with it just fine. The grandchildren were in the back playing their games with their earbuds on, Kristin was reading and Janet and I were enjoying the view and sharing some small talk.
We passed small local churches, old cemeteries, roadside diners, every kind of small business you can imagine and then, in the midst of all of it, a small sign on a telephone pole. It simply said, “God paid the debt – You get the change.” I absolutely loved it. Now maybe this saying is old hat to many of you, but I have never heard it before. However, it is the truth and I have never heard it stated so simply; with such accuracy.
You see, this telephone pole theologian understood the sacrifice of Christ. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of everyone – past, present and future. He did this so that we may enjoy the benefits of eternal life with God in heaven. Unlike other sacrifices until that point in time, the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus was a once in all eternity event. Before this, sacrifices had to be made repeatedly to atone for the sins of the people. Jesus changed all that. His death ended the need for repetitious sacrifices – once was enough for all time – because Jesus was without sin and was the perfect lamb of God who could pay the debt for the rest of us.
One of the more difficult things to understand about all this is that God could have just forgiven us and moved along – without the death of Jesus. But God is a God of justice. If God wasn’t just, how could we believe Him if He wasn’t consistent with the treatment of sin? Basically, God had to exact a price for the sins of mankind. But He loved us enough to pay the price for us – Himself – even death on a cross. And that stuns me every time I think about it. How could God possibly love us enough to do this for us? I can’t even imagine.
This is where the change part comes in. Because once the death and resurrection of Jesus took place, we were able to be eternally reunited with God. This hadn’t happened since the Garden of Eden before the fall of Adam and Eve. Since Christ already had a relationship with the Father, and was Himself God, He did this for us. So that we could experience change as a result of His sacrifice.
The verse for this evening is from 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.” In other words, the change was that He brought us back to God. My encouragement this evening is to remind you that you have the chance to change – to turn from sin and live an eternal life with Christ. Many of you have already made that choice. My prayer is that you will do your part to make people aware of the debt that Jesus paid – and to let them know how they can get the change. Who knows; someday you may even become a telephone pole theologian….. Grace and peace,