In about 1830, a man named George Wilson killed a government employee when he was caught robbing the mail. Wilson was tried and sentenced to be hanged. However, the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, sent Wilson a pardon. Then George Wilson did a strange thing: he refused to accept the pardon. No one seemed to know what to do, so Wilson's case was sent to the U. S. Supreme Court. Chief Justice Marshall wrote his opinion: “A pardon is a slip of paper, the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged.” And he was.
The cross of Christ is a revelation of God’s love for all people. We may do cowardly and disappointing things and bring deep pain to God’s heart, but in the cross we see that He never gives up on us. Something happened that day on Calvary that forever makes a difference in the relationship between people and God. Even when the love of Jesus was thrown in His face with spitting, mocking, and cursing, it remained unbroken.
The death of Christ on the cross is the pardon God has sent. There on the Cross He, because of His great love and grace, paid for the penalty of our sin. But before it becomes a pardon, we must accept it in faith and obedience. It is through the cross, and only through the cross that we can be saved from sin and its consequence of eternal separation from God in hell.
Here is what God, who cannot lie, says:
- Every human is a sinner (Romans 3:23)
- God's penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23)
- In His great love, God has made provision for the salvation of sinners (Romans 5:8)
- Each person must put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who offers free salvation for those who accept His gift of love (Romans 10:9–10, 13)
When the director walks onto the stage, the play is over. When the Lord returns in judgment, what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something new coming in? This time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. Instead, it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son SHALL NOT see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). Have you accepted God’s pardon in Christ Jesus the Lord? If not, will you?