So, once upon a time, I received a gift certificate to a restaurant. I didn’t go out too much and so it sat in my car waiting to be used. You know, I was single and new to the area and didn’t have anyone to go out with anyway, which is my first excuse. One day coffee spilled on it (I have no excuse for that; I spill my coffee in my car alot), and it became wrinkled and stained and I was pretty embarrassed to use it. Did it have less value because it was stained and dirty? I still could have gotten a $25.00 meal there, because the price had already been paid by my friends. The value wasn’t based on whether I redeemed it or not, the price was already paid…either I got to share in the joy of experiencing the gift, or I could let my shame of not having taken care of the gift get in the way of receiving the blessing someone had meant for me.
Jesus is like that. He already bought each person’s salvation with the price of his life. We owe nothing—no works, no money to enter the kingdom of heaven by his grace. All we have to do is redeem our ticket, accept Jesus’ payment for our entrance into citizenship of heaven. But many people will never do that, for shame of the condition of our ticket—our lives—and how we have treated the salvation Jesus offered us—and some will not redeem it. It is a shame that I never enjoyed the meal at the restaurant that my friends paid for—I believe I threw the certificate out. Now I kind of wish I could use it!