Love and Punishment

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)

I read an illustration of a small boy who was always late coming home from school. His parents warned him that he would face punishment if he came home late again. The next day, the boy came home late. When dinnertime arrived, the boy came to the table and looked at his plate. Upon the plate was nothing but a piece of bread. In his glass, only water. He looked at his parent’s dinner plates and noticed that they were full of food, their glasses full of milk. The boy was stunned.

Then, without so much as a word about his son’s behavior, the father switched his own plate and glass with his son’s. As he began to eat the piece of bread, he smiled at his son. Later in life, the son recalled that it was on that day when the boy learned what God was really like.

This story provides us with a simple picture of God’s love for us. The father in the story, who did not do anything wrong, took upon himself his son’s punishment out of love. The Scriptures provide us with the same message of God’s love for us–that through Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection, He who was sinless took upon Himself the guilt and punishment of our sins. What a gift that God’s grace is always greater than our sin!

If you have responded to God’s love through placing your faith in Christ, you are set free from the punishment of sin. Today, in everything you do, let your life reflect your gratitude for God’s love.

1. How do you feel about the way the father in the story responded to his son’s poor behavior? Should he have let the son bear the weight of his own punishment? Would the son have been better off? How would we be better off if God allowed us to bear the weight of punishment for our sin?

2. What can you do today to reflect your gratitude for God’s love and forgiveness in your life?

Isaiah 53:6; Romans 5:6-8, 20-21; Colossians 2:6-7, 13-15

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Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, editor, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord Culture Blog also appears on Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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