This past week in my small group, one of our group members mentioned that they hit a major milestone the week previous; they made the last payment on their house. I haven’t done that yet, but I briefly mulled over what it will feel like when that day comes for me. What a relief. What a sense of freedom. There must almost be a sense of joy to drive by the bank that held the note on their home for so long, knowing that they now actually own their house!
If you have had debt…a car loan, or another consumer account, you know the exhilaration of sending the final payment and knowing that you won’t need to send them anything more; your debt has been satisfied.
As we continue to study through Colossians this summer, we now come to one of the most compelling pictures in all of Scripture of what Jesus did for us through his death, burial, and resurrection. It’s found in Colossians 2:13-14. “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses by canceling the record of debt that stood against us…”
If you’ve trusted Christ as your only hope of salvation, you know this experience in spiritual terms. You had a debt of sin standing between you and God that had to be paid if you ever had any hope of being in Heaven someday in a right relationship with God. What’s worse; there was nothing you could do about it. The just payment for your sin (the wages) would be death…separation from God for all of eternity (Romans 6:23). You were a debtor with no way to pay your debt. End of discussion. End of hope…except for Jesus…
In Matthew 18, Jesus uses this very picture to illustrate the significance of the forgiveness we have received. He talked about two men who had a debt. One owed the king millions of dollars in today's terms. When the king threatened to throw him in prison, he begged forgiveness and the King granted it. He went out and found another servant who owed him about 3 months wages. He refused to forgive his fellow servant the debt. For our purposes here, I want to point out that the first servant had been forgiven a debt he could never have repaid. That is the point regarding this servant and it brings us back to the picture in Colossians 2:14. God canceled the debt that we had against us; a debt we could never have repaid under any circumstance. As one writer has said: “Jesus paid a debt he didn’t owe because we owed a debt we could never pay.”
Take a little time as you approach the message this week to remember the incredible debt that was against you…the weighty debt of your sin. Then focus on how that debt got paid. Jesus took it upon himself to pay your debt. God didn’t just randomly cancel your debt without satisfaction for His wrath against sin; He poured out His wrath on Jesus. He nailed Jesus to the cross and all the debt of your sin with Him. I suspect that will put a little extra shot of gratitude in your heart as you think about it.