Two years after her son’s death, she was still wearing black. In the courtroom, her elegant black dress with black lace accents generated a sense of awe and quiet respect. There was no small talk, nor of the muffled nervous giggles usually heard at the beginning of traffic court. When the judge took the stand, the first name he called was “Matthew Broward!” But the lady in black stood up and approached the stand. “Your honor,” she affirmed with a trembling voice, “My son cannot be here because he passed away two years ago. I have his death certificate here.”
The bailiff quickly took the document and delivered it to the judge. “And, how can I help you, madam?” replied the judge.
“I’m here to pay my son’s debts. He had four traffic summonses. According to these tickets, he owes $2,500.00 dollars in traffic fines.”
“Lady,” the judge answered slowly, “Your son died; you owe nothing.”
“But your honor, it’s my responsibility to pay all of my son’s outstanding debts. How would you like me to pay for these fines? I’ve brought all the money with me.”
The judge answered again, this time more emphatically. “Lady, you owe nothing. Pay nothing. Your son has died. A dead person owes nothing because he’s unable to pay. He’s dead.”
“But your honor, it’s just that as a mother, I don’t feel right that my son left these debts open. I need to pay them.”
“Lady, lady. Hear me out. The law requires that when someone dies, all traffic debts be exonerated.” The judge motioned to the bailiff who had to escort her to the door, for she kept insisting that she had to pay for her son’s debts.
When Jesus died on the cross, we all died in him. Whoever believes this, owes God nothing. Why? Because a dead person owes nothing and is unable to pay anything. Scripture says we were all “dead in our sins and trespasses” when he paid our debt; it was only then “that he made us alive in Jesus Christ. That’s the law of the gospel. When he died, we all died. It’s the simplest confession of faith, but the heart barely dares to believe it. We all walk around in black, wanting to pay debts we don’t owe. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV). “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor. 5:14-15, NIV).
We live again, not so that we will now pay our debt, but to proclaim that we live because our debt was paid! We’re no longer alive, trying to pay off our debts. That will only start the billing cycle all over again! As in our story above, the Son died; thus there are no debts pending against us. What then, do we do? Sing, whistle, dance, paint, practice a sport, do good to your neighbor, worship, live a life of worship to him. Your debt has been forgiven. The Son has died on the cross, and we died with him. And when he rose from the dead, we rose as well in him. All bills have been canceled, no matter how high the outstanding balance.
We live again, not so that we will now pay our debt, but to proclaim that we live because our debt was paid!
What’s more, we now bask in the wealth of the great treasure of the riches of God’s grace. But if you disbelieve it, then believe it while still in your unbelief! However, you can always try to pay what you don’t owe. No matter how much you pay, it will amount to nothing. Everything you attempt to put in heaven’s bank account will bounce. The currency is bad. Heaven only knows the currency of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection! Praise God. Your sins, which are many, have been forgiven.
This article is an excerpt from All Charges Dropped: Devotional Narratives from Earthly Courtrooms to the Throne of Grace by Haroldo Camacho (1517 Publishing, 2022).
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