Imagine a great and generous king. In the midst of his benevolent reign, he hears his subjects have revolted. He sends messengers to investigate. The rebels kill them. So he sends his own dear son, the prince. They murder him viciously, hanging his body on the city wall.
What would you expect the king to do now? Send his armies and take revenge, naturally. Kill the rebels. Burn the villages to ashes. He has both the power and the right.
But what if the king offered these criminals a full pardon?
“I will accept my son—whom you murdered—as the payment for all your rebellion. You may go free. All I require is for you to admit your transgressions.”
We’d be stunned—blown away—to hear this, wouldn’t we? But the king’s not finished.
“I invite any of you to come live in my palace, eat at my table and enjoy all the pleasures of my kingdom. And, I will adopt you as my own children and make you my heirs, so everything that’s mine will be yours forever.”
Then he says, “I won’t force you to accept my offer. But the only alternative is spending the rest of your life in prison. The choice is yours.”
Can you imagine anyone responding, “How dare the king send anyone to prison? What a cruel tyrant!”
This is God’s grace to us. If trying to comprehend it doesn’t stretch your brain, you just aren’t getting it.
Because grace is so incomprehensible to us, we bootleg in conditions so we won’t look so bad and God’s offer won’t seem so counterintuitive. By the time we’re done qualifying the gospel, we’re no longer unworthy and powerless. We’re no longer wretches. And grace is no longer grace. The worst thing we can teach people is that they’re good without Jesus. The fact is, God doesn’t offer grace to good people, any more than doctors offer lifesaving surgery to healthy people. Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).
Never believe anything about yourself or God that makes His grace to you seem anything less than astonishing.
Because that’s exactly what it is.