Day 4: Jesus Took Our Place
The story goes that during the Crimean War, a captain in the Russian army had just discovered that someone had been betraying his war plans and maneuvers to the enemy. Outraged, fist raised in the air, he thundered, "When the traitor is found, he will receive 100 lashes upon his bare back!"
A few days later, they indeed found the traitor. It was his mother.
Heavy in heart, the captain secluded himself in his quarters. How could he possibly carry out this order against his own mother? What would his men think if he rescinded the command? Yet, he couldn't let her get away with her crimes? His countenance grew pale and ghastly, revealing the torture his mind was enduring.
After two days of seclusion, he finally reappeared before his men. He stuttered for a moment, and then gave the command to carry out the decree he had ordered. The soldiers bared his mother's back and the executioner stepped into place, whip in hand. The captain nodded. The whipped snapped. She groaned in agony.
Two... Three... Four... Five...
"Halt!", the captain shouted. He had watched as much as he could take. He stepped forward, removed his shirt, and then ordered that the remaining ninety-five lashes be issued to him. He took them all, until his flesh hung in bloody ribbons from his back. It is said that the scene moved his men, and his mother, to tears.
Peter said of Jesus, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness." (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus bore our sin in His body. He paid the price we should have paid. He took the punishment we should have taken. He drank the cup we should have drank.
That is grace.