My wife and I have taken to enjoying the half-hour reality show called Border Security. It chronicles the stories of people who have been “hauled into secondary” at either an airport or at the Canada-US land border, to be examined more carefully by the border protection agents of either country. The show is a good reminder to be honest about everything, because these guards are smart people: they are trained to be able to discern if you’re telling the truth or not.
There was one episode recently where a traveller was returning to the US from Thailand, and had not declared a banana in her luggage. When the banana was discovered, she was assessed a fine for failing to declare that she had any quantity at all of fruits or vegetables. Angrily, she paid the fine and was released. Similar story lines get repeated, with different characters involved: tell the truth or pay the price. Since telling the truth doesn’t make for particularly compelling television, we get to watch the ones who pay the price most often.
The great 20th century preacher, Donald Grey Barnhouse, told a story, surrounded by an enrapt group of students with whom he was speaking about the Christian faith. It was about a judge, whose son came before him, accused of reckless driving. The charge was easily proven, and the judge fined the young man the highest fine permitted by law.
Then the judge adjourned the court, stepped down from the bench, and paid his son’s fine.
One of the students interjected and said, “But God cannot get down off the bench.”
Barnhouse replied, “You have given me one of the best illustrations of the incarnation that I will ever have. For Jesus Christ was no more or less than God, come down off the bench to pay the fine which he had imposed upon us.”
Jesus paid your fine. How will you respond?
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5.21, NLT).