Going to prison in my place
At a men’s group the chairperson witnessed powerfully about the Lord’s blessing on his business. Earlier in the year he was so excited about a big quote that he had given for work on a farm. But although it was the cheapest quote, he did not get the job. However, that did not stop him from keeping on believing that the Lord would help him get other work. And that is what happened. Eventually he was so busy he could hardly sleep.
Afterwards as we chatted I was so surprised by his life story. You see, he had been addicted to gambling. What a nasty monster to get rid of. He described how he simply could not stop and ended up in financial difficulties as a result. In order to finance the monster he eventually had to “borrow” money from his employer. Not that anybody else knew about it. He was absolutely down and out when he walked out that last evening having spent R40 000 just like that. He was charged with fraud, found guilty, and worst of all, sent to prison.
I couldn’t believe that this successful businessman who looks just like me was a criminal who had gone to prison. He told me more about his life in prison. I tried to imagine what it must have been like, but all that comes to mind is a Sylvester Stallone movie. I suspect that didn’t describe the reality.
Prison is not a good place.
But we must be careful not to point a finger at others too quickly, because all of us belong in prison. Go and have a look at what you do. There where we do not act out of love for others, but for personal gain. Look at the ten commandments and your own actions the past few days and you’ll see that you’ve broken the law a couple of times. And the law’s punishment is prison time: 23Until the time when we were mature enough to respond freely in faith to the living God, we were carefully surrounded and protected by the Mosaic law. 24The law was like those Greek tutors, with which you are familiar, who escort children to school and protect them from danger or distraction …
Jesus cut off the ropes of our sin. He unlocked the prison doors and threw away the key. There are no more punishments and prison for the children of God. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. Yes, my actions deserve prison. Actually it deserves heavier punishment! I deserve the death penalty. Yes, that is what I deserve. Fortunately, God pitied us and made a plan to save us. Instead of pushing the button of the electric chair, Jesus unlocked the prison doors.
What wonderful news for us!
We must believe in this. We will not get to heaven through our good works, but by believing that Jesus Christ had done enough. Just that! 26But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God.
How easily we get out of difficulty. There was no way back for the business man. He realised he had made a mistake. He acknowledged it and took his punishment like a man and went to prison. Nobody said: “Wait, you can go home; I’ll go to prison on your behalf.” No, he had to humble himself and had to go prison himself.
You don’t have to go to prison for all the wrong things you do. Thank goodness, because many of us would have to stay for a long time for all the wrong things we’ve done. Fortunately, Jesus took on our punishment on the cross and paid for everything. You must simply believe that Jesus has done it already. Yes, faith is the key.
There are so many people out there who do not believe, people whose sin is too much for them. Maybe we should go and live Jesus’ freedom so that others can see what it means not to carry the burden of going to prison on our shoulders.
Jesus is our brother who keeps us from prison!
Do you believe that Jesus’ death on the cross keeps you from prison?
Do you believe that Jesus has done enough to pay for your sin?
How do you live so that others can see this?
Lord, You are so good to go to prison on my behalf! You take on the punishment for everything that I’ve done wrong. The price was your life! How can I ever thank you? Amen