For God to forgive without any cost to anyone would be sheer indifference. It would obliterate any distinction between right and wrong. It would say that right does not matter, and that evil is a matter of indifference. How can that be before a holy God?               – Michael Green

Forgiveness costs us nothing…. That’s why we call it grace. But it cost Jesus his life. That is why we call it just. Oh, how precious is the news that God does not hold our sins against us! And how beautiful is Christ, whose blood made it right for God to do this.        – John Piper

We can imagine that God is able to overlook our sin only when we do not see our sin aright. So long as we imagine our sin to be a slight, a technical violation of some impersonal standard, we fail to see what it cost God to forgive us.

If we want to understand what God has done for us in Christ, we need to think of the sin that leaves us speechless with outrage. Destruction of property will not do here; it must be a heinous violation of life or well-being. History is ripe with examples: the cool mechanism of the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews, the terror of the Cambodian killing-fields, the blood bath of the Rwandan massacres, the abuse and neglect of children in our own communities, the calm deliberations of the serial killer, the grisly work of the abortionist.

Until our blood boils, until we find ourselves muttering, “Someone’s got to pay for this,” we don’t have a clue about how God thinks and feels about sin.

Our sin.

My sin.

God could no more forgive my sin with a wink and a nod than the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials could grant amnesty to the men who engineered the slaughter of six million Jews.

God could no more forgive my sin by a wave of the hand than I could say to the serial killer, “That’s okay. I understand. We all make mistakes.”

That’s right: the sweetness of forgiveness without the imposition of justice is something even God cannot accomplish. Mercy demands justice. There was no other way besides the cross.

In the cross, we see the awful justice of God fully expressed: Jesus suffered unspeakable disgrace, agony, and rejection there.

In the cross, we see the unspeakable mercy and compassion of God fully expressed: I should have been the one suffering that disgrace, agony, and rejection.

It’s not that forgiveness was costly, even for God.

Forgiveness was costly, especially for God.

Prayer: Thank you, dear Jesus, for submitting the will of your Father, for giving up your life, for allowing evil men to break your body and spill your blood, for enduring the shame, abandonment, and rejection that rightly should be mine. I can never repay you for your amazing and kindly grace.