As we near graduation season later this spring, I’m reminded of a story I once read about a high school senior who went to his father with a very important request. “Dad,” he said, “For graduation, I think I deserve a new car.” His father thought for a few moments, and then replied, “Well son, I’ll get you that new car, but first you must do three things – bring your grades up, read your Bible more, and get a haircut.”
A number of months later, with graduation just around the corner, the son went back to his father and asked with anticipation, “How am I doing, dad? Am I going to get a new car for graduation?” “You know, son, I noticed you’ve brought your grade average up. That’s great,” answered the father. “I’ve also noticed that you’ve been studying your Bible every morning before school. That’s wonderful!” Then with a look of displeasure and a sigh, the father finished his answer with, “However, you still haven’t gone and got your haircut.”
“But, dad!” the son retorted, “While studying the Bible, I’ve noticed a few things…guys like Samson and John the Baptist had long hair; and I’m sure Moses did too…I bet even Jesus had long hair!” At that, the father replied, “Well son, you may be right, but you have to remember…those guys walked everywhere they went!”
Aren’t you glad we have a Heavenly Father who doesn’t require us to earn our way? Ephesians 2 spells this out for us: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world . . . But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions . . . For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (vv. 1-2, 4-5, 8-9)
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of grace, and mercy, and forgiveness, and love. It’s God doing for you what you couldn’t do for yourself. It’s you owing a debt you couldn’t pay, but God paying the debt He didn’t owe. It’s God treating Jesus as though He had lived your life, so that He could treat you as though you had lived Jesus’ life!
“…I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins…” (1 John 2:1-2).