A Great Debt! Who Can Pay?

Harry Ironside (1876-1951) was an American Bible teacher and author of over 60 books. Ironside was known as a great story teller and used illustrations liberally throughout his sermons. One of these that I ran across a number of years ago has stuck with me. It concerns a young soldier in the Russian army. Because this young man's father was a personal friend of the Russian Czar, Nicholas I, the soldier was given the responsible position of pay master of one of the barracks. Unfortunately, the young man developed a gambling habit. As a result, he ended up gambling away much of the government's money (in addition to his own). One day, the pay master received notice that a representative of the Czar was planning a visit to check the books. In a state of panic, the soldier totaled up the funds owed. Then he went to the safe and pulled out the available money (along with his own money). As he compared the two, he was overwhelmed by the astronomical debt versus the meager amount on hand. He was ruined. Unable to face his future disgrace, he pulled out his revolver and laid it on the table. He then took out a sheet of paper and detailed his misdeeds. At the bottom of the ledger where he had totaled up his debt, he wrote the words, "A great debt! Who can pay?" He then put down his pen and looked at the clock. The hour was approaching midnight. He decided at the stroke of the hour, he would end his life.

As the minutes ticked away, the pay master grew drowsy and fell asleep. That night, as was often his custom, Czar Nicholas was making the rounds of this particular barracks. Seeing the light on, the czar entered the pay master's office. Immediately he recognized the young man as the son of his friend. Looking over the pay master's shoulder, he saw the ledger, and after reading it, was about to the awaken the man and place him under arrest. But then he saw the words, "A great debt! Who can pay?" At that moment, a wave of compassion came upon him. He picked up the man's pen and wrote one word ... and then quietly slipped out.

Some time later the soldier woke up. Realizing it was well past the midnight hour, he picked up his revolver. As he did, his eyes spotted the words he had written, "A great debt! Who can pay?" AND the one word the Czar had written, "Nicholas!" The young man was dumbfounded! How could this be? Was this a cruel joke of one of his comrades. He quickly went to the safe and pulled out a document that contained the czar's signature. He compared the two. It was a perfect match! He did not know how .. but he knew the czar had been there and that the czar knew it all. Yet, the czar was willing to forgive him the debt! Why, he could not explain. But he rested in the czar's promise. Sure enough, shortly after dawn, a messenger came from the czar carrying the necessary funds to pay the debt.

In the same way, God does for us what only the czar could do for the young pay master. The debt of our sin is of such magnitude that all of our meager efforts to pile up enough righteous deeds to pay the debt will fall woefully short! At this point, Jesus Christ steps forward and pays the debt that we owe God. A debt that only HE could ever pay! Oh ... a great debt! Who can pay?  Jesus Christ ... God's Son and our Savior!

This my friend is something to truly celebrate this Christmas season!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

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