Pay $14 Billion And Go Home

February 16, 2017
Volume 21, Number 7

Claudia Brown is relatively new in her position as Justice of the Peace in Bell County, Texas.  When a man was recently brought before her to be charged with first degree murder, she first set his bell at $100,000.  He had willingly turned himself in, she reasoned, and it was an amount he could probably meet with bail bonds.

Prosecutors objected, and insisted on setting bail at $1 million.  Brown then set the bail at $4 billion!  Her purpose, she explained, was to highlight the unfairness (injustice?) of setting bail at impossibly high amounts, which essentially force the convicted to remain incarcerated for months as they await trial.  (Another judge later amended the man’s bail to $150,000.)

I’ve never been charged with a crime, but I can imagine it would be terribly discouraging to have an impossibly high bail amount handed to you.  Though our system says we are “innocent until proven guilty”, a person in such a situation is trapped unless they have considerable wealth at their disposal.

In Matthew 18 Jesus told a parable about a servant who was found guilty of embezzling his master’s resources.  His bill amounted to “ten thousand talents” (Matthew 18:24).  Scholars tell us that a talent represents an amount that would take the average laborer of that time about 20 years to accumulate.  This man owed ten thousand talents!  It goes without saying that he could never repay such a debt, though he desperately pleaded for leniency, claiming he would repay his debt (Matthew 18:26).

Jesus told the parable to emphasize our need to forgive one another.  But let’s keep our focus for now on what the master of that servant did: He forgave the man’s debt!  Jesus put it this way: “Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt” (Matthew 18:27).  Such a thought is astonishing.

Could such a thing really happen?  Paul claimed that it has already happened for many: “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us.  And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13,14).

We stand before our Master, and we are found guilty of transgressing His will.  Our debt is incredibly large; there is no realistic way we can repay it.  Are we in a death trap?

Christ has stepped forward to “make bail” for us.  As the song goes, “He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay; I needed someone to take my sins away.”  In Christ we have that “Someone”.  How can we not receive Him into our lives?!

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.


Copyright, 2017, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

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