“Fourth-stage terminal cancer.” It’s not a phrase you expect to hear in traffic court. There everything has to do with demands and obligations and how they’ve been broken. Fines are handed down, there are orders to appear at trial or at traffic school, and guilty and not guilty pleas. But who pleads, “I’ve got cancer”? Even so, there was a man about sixty years old, tall, handsome, still showing good health, but a profound sadness marked his eyes and every line of his face. He was accused of several traffic infractions: ran a stop sign, using a cell phone while driving, seat belt violation. When the judge asked him how he pled, he responded firmly but gently, “Your Honor, I’ve just been diagnosed with fourth-stage lung cancer. It’s now all over my body. I plead with you to forgive my fines.” A profound silence enveloped the courtroom. Even the judge kept silence before a sentence that only life hands down; the sentence of dwindling hopes.
Finally, the judge broke the silence. “Do you have medical evidence for your situation?” The defendant took some papers from a folder and handed them to the judge. After a brief reading, the judge answered, “Well sir, your fines are exonerated. You don’t owe anything. As long as you are able, please drive carefully.”
At the divine throne of justice, our situation is not much different. We have the cancer of sin all over our being. The symptoms? Rebelliousness toward God . . . confidence that, if there is a God, he will realize we’re not that bad and won’t refuse our entrance to eternal life. We’re also quick to judge others and even secretly envying others’ apparent success in evil and sin. Such evil is so attached to our being that as the man in our story, we cannot pay the debt before God, because our illness has no cure. But humanity’s history does not end with those foreboding overtones. The story of the passion of Christ is more than just a story. It’s the living reality of the one who took on our cancer and carried it on the purity of his own soul. It’s the reality of him who suffered our pain and took on our brokenness. Scripture comforts us with the words, “And with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). So on the cross, he not only paid our fine, he took our cancerous soul on his own being in order to cover the totality of our being with his own health and well-being, which is his love, righteousness, and holiness. So that everyone who confesses the name of Jesus can claim before the divine judgment seat: “I had the cancer of sin all over my body, but he took it away and granted me the perfect health of his entire life. I am now here without spot or wrinkle.”
Hard to believe? Such is God’s grace. It is so immense it cures even us. “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits. He is the one who pardons your iniquities. He is the one who heals your wounds; he rescues your life from the tomb and covers you with love and compassion…He does not deal with us according to our sins…He remembers that we are but dust” (Ps. 103:2,3,10,14).
This is an excerpt from “All Charges Dropped! Devotional Narratives from Earthly Courtrooms to the Throne of Grace,” written by Haroldo Camacho (1517 Publishing, 2022), pgs 121-122.