“God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.”  (Colossians 1:13-14, MSG)

Years ago, I was living in a foreign land where I ran into trouble with the law. The laws seemed unfair, confusing, and harsh. I was sentenced to death for my crimes. I wish I could say I wasn’t guilty but according to the law of the land – I was guilty as charged.

My situation was hopeless.

Prison was truly a horrible place. Hopelessness became my constant companion.  As I sat in my prison cell, I heard whispers of a seldom-used law that caused me to vacillate between a glimmer of hope and even greater despair. The law stated that if an innocent person could be found who was willing to take my place I could be set free from prison. Hope was fleeting; what was the chance this would ever happen?!! Who would ever take my place? After all . . .

 I was guilty.  I deserved to die according to the law.

Time went by.  My execution day arrived.  I had no more hope.  The prison guard arrived.

As he unlocked my cell he gave me with unbelievable news. A man visiting from another country had offered to take my place! My first response was disbelief. Was this a sick joke? But it was true. I did not know him. I had never met him. On the day I was to be executed, he took my place. I was set free.  I was offered a home in a new land, with a new life. The arrangements were set.

All I had to do was accept the offer. 

I stumbled out of my prison in disbelief.  Could this be real?  I was given a ticket as well as directions to my new future. I had so many unanswered questions, but was told I needed to accept the offer.  My many questions would be answered in time.

I so wanted the freedom and the new beginning, however I had so many doubts and questions. Who was this person who took my place?  How could this actually be happening to me? In prison with a death sentence – one moment and walking out the prison door the next.  Was this for real?  Why me? Who was behind all this?

I was taken to a new land, a place I had never been. Freedom was overwhelming. I was officially declared “Not Guilty”. I could start a new life.  I felt so relieved! But I still wondered, “Why would someone die for me?”

Upon arrival, I was taken to a palace! I thought, “There must be a mistake.” I was a convicted criminal and was being treated as if I were an important person.  How could this be? Still in disbelief I thought, “This will not end well, it can’t be good. Maybe they will again put me in jail, once my sordid past is revealed.” Even as these thoughts pervaded my mind, I was led into a beautiful and grand room. A distinguished man dressed in fine clothes smiled and called me by name. He came to me and embraced me! All I could say was, “Sir, I am so confused. How do you know me? Why am I here?” He offered me a chair, we sat as he began to explain. “I have followed your story for a long time. In fact from the moment of your birth I have watched the circumstances of your life. I know every detail. I know what you got for your fifth birthday. I know about your father’s death. I know you find this hard to believe but I love you. You see, my son is the one who took your place. He took your guilt. He took your death sentence. He was the innocent man who died for you.”

I began to weep with amazement, wonder, and gratitude. I deserved none of this. As if he read my thoughts, he said, “I knew you were hopeless. I had to do something. This was the only way. The law is clear that without the death of an innocent person there can be no freedom.  My son was willing to take your place.”

The man turned and called for an aid, “Please show my son to his room.”  “Sir,” I asked in amazement, “you called me son?” “Yes,” he replied with a look in his eyes I will forever remember, “You are now my son. THIS is your new life. I have adopted you. You are now part of my family, my son, my heir. We will live together.

Every year I celebrate the day an innocent man died for me, to give me freedom.  It’s called Good Friday.

God, Thank you for saving me, for giving Your son for me, for calling me Your own.  Thank you for Good Friday and thank you that Sunday is coming! Amen

For more information about this prayer or to further understand this story read, Easter is Restoration

If you have questions or would like someone to pray with you click here.

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An Easter Story Worth Remembering

Written by Mike Woodard

Mike Woodard

Mike is married to Karen, he is father of 4 and grandfather of 2. Backpacking is his favourite past time. Science and theology are his educational background, a biology degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in Christian Studies from Trinity Western Seminary. Mike is the Associate Director of FamilyLife Canada. For more of his story visit familylifecanada.com/mike