Oh there’s always lots of commencement speeches come about May and June. Most of them, pretty predictable. “Live up to your potential.” “Follow your dreams.” “The sky’s the limit.” But maybe there’s never been a commencement speech like the one at Morehouse College recently. Billionaire businessman Robert Smith set 396 graduates free in one day.
He was reflecting on the long history of an African-American family, and then he announced that “on behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we’re going to put a little fuel in your bus.” More like rocket fuel! In one breathtaking moment, he suddenly announced that his family was creating a grant that would pay the student loans of every graduate! What a moment! The dreaded debt just beyond the degree – suddenly gone!
In the case of one graduate I heard interviewed, those loans amounted to $200,000! Paid for in a day! Once he got past the shock of what he had just heard, he literally began jumping up and down. And shouting out loud, “I’m debt free! I’m debt free! Thank God!” And the interviewer said simply, “This is life-changing for you.”
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “The Very Best Day…When Your Debt Goes Away!”
Now I’ve certainly never been to a graduation like that one. But I understand the crazy joy of people who’ve had their debt erased in a day. A much larger debt than any of them could pay in a lifetime. I know. I’m one of them.
The announcement that has set millions free from the most crushing debt of all was made in three words… “It is finished.” Jesus made that announcement as He died an undeserved death on an unthinkable cross. Those three words were just one word in the language of the day. “Tetelestai.” Archaeologists actually found that word carved on stone tablet receipts in an ancient accountant’s office. It meant, “paid in full.”
Jesus was paying the biggest, most consequential debt I owe. Because I owe the very God who gave me my life. Because I hijacked that life from my Creator and, in essence, I declared myself the god of what I did with His gift. Or, as the Bible says, “All of us have wandered away like sheep. Each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). “All of us,” it says. Ignoring Him. Pushing the Creator of the universe to the edge of our life. And ending up with a wall between us and Him. So, as the Bible says, “your sins have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:2).
I think we already knew that. Because we do things to try to make it right with God. After all, why do we bother with religion and trying to do some good deeds? Maybe we’re hoping to somehow pay down our moral debt from a life lived “my way” instead of His way.
But we’re in way too deep to ever be able to pay for our cosmic rebellion. Because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). He’s a perfect God. I’m a serial sinner. All the good I could ever do can’t pay my death penalty. But somebody has to die, and somebody did. Jesus did. As it says in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 John 2:24, “He personally carried our sins (my sins!) in His body on the cross.”
All the hurtful things I’ve ever done. All the lies I’ve ever told. All the things that I thought I’d never do and I did. All the trust betrayed. All the dirty things, the selfish things, the secret things. “Finished” on that day when He took my debt and became, on that cross both debtor and the deliverer. He might as well have been looking straight at me when He spoke those three liberating words.
It is this unspeakable love that has won my heart. And the hearts of millions who’ve carried with them to that cross their backpack full of rocks – all the guilt, the shame, the regrets, the sin of a lifetime. Debtors who left that cross with the backpack gone. Their sins forgiven. Their debt erased. And their eternity secure because the One who paid their debt that conquered death by walking out of His grave and now into their life. We can shout, “I’m debt free! Thank God!”
I want that for you. He wants that for you. Tell Him today, “Jesus, I believe when you died it was for my sin. I’m yours.” Go to our website today at this crossroads moment and get the information that will help you be sure that you know him. It’s ANewStory.com.
I’ve had people tell me so many times, “I feel like a 100-pound weight has been lifted off my back!” Well, it has. You’re forgiven. You’re going to Heaven. The debt is gone, paid in full.