Consider the High School senior who has established a 4.0+ GPA, has participated in sports or drama or music or committees, has maintained a positive influence on peers, has been on the Dean’s List for the first three years. He/She has applied to four colleges, has been accepted at three. And more, based on a merits scale at each institution, has been awarded a Full Scholarship – all four years, at all three schools. This student has invested much in academic pursuits, cares deeply about eventually getting a Ph.D., and, more specifically, has worked hard for this very outcome.

While we would certainly applaud this young person for the energy and focus evident, and would greatly applaud these granted scholarship monies, it remains for this student to continue the same level of dedication through the years of Undergraduate Study, or risk losing this much-coveted prize. By any standard, this is one blessed student (representing one very happy family!)

Now consider Jesus, born in obscurity, welcomed by even more obscure, nameless shepherds, heralded as King by foreign dignitaries, raised in a nowhere town in a nowhere district of Judea. He spends 30 years, listening, learning, obeying, honing skills. For 3+ years, he places himself in the public eye, introducing his Father, his Father’s Kingdom, his Father’s loving plan of Salvation for all who would hear. His ‘senior year’ culminates in his ‘graduation’ on a cross outside Jerusalem. His death fully and completely satisfies every requirement for inviting all mankind into the world of the Beloved for all Eternity.

Here, the stellar student analogy breaks down. Jesus’ reward is being found qualified to offer us a ‘free ride’ (free of sin, free of condemnation, free of guilt, free of eternal death and separation from God) into the heart of the Father. Jesus’ righteousness delivers, ‘all expenses paid,’ a place for us in eternity with him. Jesus’ steely perseverance and single aim pays off for me, for you, for all those who will hear through us. Jesus’ travels, his stories, his sermons, his healings, his miracles, are our letter of recommendation to the Father. Jesus’ shed blood is our payment for failure and sin and disobedience.

The student worked for him/herself. Jesus made all the payments – into our account. The student needs to maintain a level of academic excellence to keep the prize. Jesus’ death is an offer of the purest love with no disqualifying clauses. The student will work to make a name for him/herself. Jesus worked to give us a name – his! I’ll stop by directing you to this song – PD

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