Bearing the Punishment

Genesis 4:13
And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

What a guy Cain was, right?  Disobedient, murderer, liar.  But this statement he makes is certainly true.  He may have tried to get away with some things.  He may have tried to take the easy way out.  He may have been just a hopeless sinner, but he was right.  His punishment was more than he could bear, and he wasn’t just being wimpy about it.  The consequences of our sins are more than we can bear.  We don’t have the kind of strength to absorb what we deserve for disobeying God and doing the wrong thing and sinning against His holiness.  We don’t have the fortitude to bear up under what would be a just and righteous sentence for our crimes.

But God was gracious even to Cain, and He is gracious to worthless sinners like us, as well.  He has named the price we are to pay—The wages of sin is death.  But then He gives us a way out.  He offers an alternative to what we truly deserve and offers instead His divine protection through the blood of His Son.  When we deserved death, He took it upon Himself.  When we should have suffered, He absorbed that punishment.  When we should have lost everything, including our lives, He came and offered us a gift—eternal life and so much more than that.

What an amazing truth it is that God chooses to show us mercy.  What a humbling thing it is that we should never take for granted.  God doesn’t owe us anything.  He didn’t owe Cain anything.  But He showed kindness anyway because that’s the kind of God He is.  He eased the burden.  He gave him what he didn’t deserve.  He helped him and showed compassion.  And He does the same for us.  Though we’ve messed up, perhaps defied Him to His face or done something unthinkable, we’re not beyond the reach of His great mercy, and we can still find forgiveness in Him.

What a horrible thought it is to think of what we would have had to face if God didn’t intervene in our lives.  Without His salvation, only certain death awaited us, only darkness and suffering and the constant gnawing emptiness of being without Him for all eternity.  But He saved us from that because He loves us so much.  He knew we could never bear that punishment, so He took it upon Himself for us.  And if we’ve accepted Him, we can go away free into a new life without fear of it.  So once we have been set free from the weight of all of that, let us go forward into grateful service to our Lord.

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