My husband is listening to a commentator preach through the book of Genesis. He told me an amazing story that he had heard through the series:
Apparently, in early Rome, if you were found guilty of a crime and were sentenced to serve in jail due to your infarctions, the jailer would post a piece of paper outside of your cell stating your crime and what the punishment was for your crime. Periodically, the piece of paper would be updated to account for time served and how much payment was due. When you had served your time, your piece of paper would be marked "tetelestai" meaning "paid in full" by the jailer, and you would be set free. Further, you would have a receipt of paper proving that the wrong you had done had been paid for, and you were now free to rejoin society. Interestingly, if you escaped from jail before you had paid for your crime, the jailor on duty when you escaped would be required to serve out the rest of your time! That's some serious motivation for the jailor! (That's why when Paul escaped from prison the jailor was so upset!) No matter what, the debt had to be paid.
Well, when it's our turn to stand before the Lord, and He looks at the book that holds the records of our lives and He sees the crimes we have committed, He will have a record showing our infarctions and he will sentence us according to our deeds. Death awaits us, each and every one. We humans are like millions of jailbirds sitting in cells awaiting judgement with a list of our terrible deeds posted up clearly justifying the punishment that awaits us. And not a single one of us isn't guilty. Every last human of this world has done things and thought things so terrible, so horrible, so convicting, that if our deeds were brought to light we would have no argument that we truly are deserving of death.
The last word our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ uttered as he hung on the cross, just before he breathed his last breath . . . before his death . . . Jesus uttered the word Tetelestai.
Each and every one of us paid for IN FULL.
And it was no easy task. Jesus suffered. Oh how he suffered. He suffered alone. When he rode into Jerusalem on the donkey that had never been ridden before and the people were laying down clothing and palm leaves for that donkey to walk on, the disciples began to rejoice and say, "Peace on Earth and in Heaven". But Jesus began to cry. He knew the price of peace. He knew He was the only one fit to pay the price. He suffered for the peace. He suffered for us.
A genuine act of love.
One time, a couple of years ago, the Lord allowed me to see how unworthy I really am. Sometimes I struggle with pride, thinking I'm a good person. Thinking I'm somehow better than another for one reason or another. Oh no, the Lord showed me . . . allowed me to see . . . the depth of my disgust in His sight. It left me feeling raw and carnal. Similar to how I've felt before when I really, really hurt someone on accident. Like one time a threw a softball full speed into my teammates braces. Her face was bloody and bruised and it was totally my fault. I felt terrible, I knew I had hurt her. She wouldn't be suffering if it weren't for me. That's the same way I felt when I realized the depth of the damage my sin had caused. Yuck. Makes me sick just thinking about it.
He carried that weight. He set me free by paying the cost of my evil heart. Tetelestai. Gone.
The other night we had a little get together at my Uncle Dale and Aunt Karen's to send us off before we leave on our journey to Mexico. Dale and Karen gave each member of our family bracelets that say "I am second". Meaning, we are choosing to put God first, and ourselves second. But that's no act of bravery on our part. Do you understand what He did for us. Can you imagine sitting on death row, and someone comes and takes your place. He did that. He loves me. He's with me. He protects me. He guides me. He provides for me.
I am second . . . to a God who put me first.
It was His act of heroism and bravery, not mine. He has offered me a life with Him, and I've accepted. All made possible by his sacrifice for me. And I'm filled with love for Him because of it. Hopelessly devoted to my God.
And He did it for you, too.