(Image courtesy of http://www.lostseed.com.)

"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit" (I Peter 3:18, KJV).

There once was a cruel man.  He abused animals.  He enjoyed causing pain and suffering to little children.  His eyes were always cold and unfeeling and his mouth was always dipped in a sinister, wicked grin.

One day, a little boy, whose father was well-respected in the village, was walking on the dirt road that led past the cruel man's house.  The little boy stretched his walking stick out far in front of him and then pulled himself forward, laughing to himself as he strolled down the trail.

From the window of the house, the cruel man watched, his mind running frantic with desire.  When the little boy reached the front walk of the man's house, the cruel man opened the door to his house and called to the boy.  "Come in," he said slyly.  "I'll give you a toy if only you would come inside."  The little boy, innocent and pure, accepted and approached the man's front door.

For some time, the little boy was nowhere to be found.  Hours passed and at home, his father began to worry, but still he reminded himself that his son would be home soon.

Finally, just before the sun set and the father truly began to worry, the little boy stumbled through the doorway to his father's home.  His clothes were ripped and discolored.  His eyes were black and blue.  His nose was crusted with blood.  Immediately, his father jumped to his feet and held his son tightly in his arms.  His tears dripped into the water which he used to wash his son's battered and bruised body.

"Who did this to you?" questioned his father sincerely and earnestly.  But the boy made no answer.  Instead, he slept through numerous nightmares in his father's strong arms until the next day.

Several days passed until the boy was able to walk again.  Although still sore and bruised, the little boy asked if his father would walk with him to the cruel man's house to pay him a visit.

"Yes, I will go with you," said his father, desperately wanting to execute his revenge upon the person who did this to his only son.

The cruel man saw them coming from a long way off down the road.  And for the first time in his entire life, the cruel man felt a sliver of fear creep into his soul.  The boy was returning with his father.

The little boy asked his father to wait at the road while he went up to the door to bring the cruel man to meet him.  After reassuring the cruel man that his father would not be angry, he submitted and grabbed the boy's outstretched hand.

The cruel man hung his head, realizing now the full measure of punishment that was to be given to him, as he was led by the hand to the boy's father.

As they approached, suddenly the father raised his hand to strike the man, but the little boy stepped in front of the cruel man to accept the blow.

The little boy fell to the ground, dust burning the cut on the side of his face - the cut meant for the cruel man and not for the boy.  Yet before anyone else could speak, the boy staggered to his feet and said to his father, "Daddy, you are a good, respected man in the village.  Everyone loves you and you always give generously to anyone in need.  This man beat me, yes, but you can see he has nothing good.  His house is falling apart and he must be lonely living all by himself."  The boy paused to grab the cruel man's hand once again and then he continued.  "I wanted to bring him to you because I know you can help him.  Would you?"

The father knelt down and hugged his son.  Then he said calmly and lovingly to his son, "My son, I love you.  Everything I have belongs to you and I see that you to want to share with others what I have given you.  This man," the father said as he gestured toward the cruel man, "has been on my mind for sometime.  Thank you for bringing him to me."

The father stood to his feet and all three of them made their way to the village.  The cruel man was bewildered.  What had just happened?  What kind of insane love was this?  The cruel man, although he remembered his days of cruelty, vowed to change his ways from that day forward.  Yet he could never approach the father unless the boy was with him.  The boy's pure and righteous love was the man's only protection.


Jesus suffered once - but oh! how great that suffering was!  The total number of all human sin was borne by Jesus Christ at one moment in time.  That is what caused Jesus to die.  It was not because of the physical suffering that He endured, although it was indeed great.  Jesus "gave up His Spirit" willingly one time in order to pay the penalty for sin.

Jesus, the only righteous one who ever lived, gave up His Spirit for the unrighteous.  The "excellent" and "morally pure" Son of God suffered intense anguish and separation from His Father for one moment in time.  The penalty of sin was not His to bear.  Indeed, He was righteous!  He had committed no crime.  He had not blasphemed the Lord God.  We did!  We are the ones deserving of separation, condemned from our fleshly birth to live in sin.  We are the ones who blaspheme God almost daily out of our selfish wickedness.  "God is true, and every man a liar!"  Even so, He suffered the penalty of sin, both yours and mine, the righteous for the unrighteous.

But what came about after that is even more miraculous...

After Jesus suffered once for all sin, holding nothing against the wrongs committed against Him and His Father, He "brings us to God."  He takes us, holds our hand and walks with us, to a specific place - namely, the Throne in Heaven upon which God the Father reigns.  But He does not leave us before the Throne.  He comes with us.  He speaks for us.  He covers us so His Father's wrath is not carried out against us.  He protects us.  He heals our wounds.  He gives us food.  He nourishes our sin-stained bodies.  And then He gives us life - eternal life.  What kind of love is this!

Jesus Christ, the very one who has every right to despise us because of the pain we caused Him in our sin and wickedness and rebellion is the very one who holds our hand and walks with us.  He leads us to His Father and graciously extends to us a love to which we have no rightful claim.

Oh! Praise and glory belong to Jesus and His amazing, supernatural, agape love!  Who am I that He would give Himself up for me!?  A sinner of the worst kind!!  Praise be to Jesus Christ, my God and my King!

Oh how precious is that flow of blood that covers me and washes me whiter than snow!