“A young man is brought before a judge for drunk driving. When his name is announced by the bailiff, there’s a gasp in the courtroom-the defendant is the judge’s son! The judge hopes his son is innocent, but the evidence is irrefutable. He’s guilty.
What can the judge do? He’s caught in a dilemma between justice and love. Since his son is guilty, he deserves punishment. But the judge doesn’t want to punich his son because of his great love for him.
He reluctantly announces the sentence: “Son, you can either pay a $5,000 fine or go to jail.
The son looks up at the judge and says, “But, Dad, I promise to be good from now on! I’ll volunteer at the soup kitchens. I’ll visit the elderly. I’ll even open a home to care for abused children. And I’ll never do anything wrong again! Please let me go!”
At this point, the judge asks, “Are you still drunk? You can’t do all of that. But even if you could, your future good deeds can’t change the fact that you’re already guilty of drunk driving.” Indeed, the judge realizes that good works cannot cancel bad works! Perfect justice demands that his son be punished for what he has done.
So the judge repeats, “I’m sorry, Son. As much as I’d like to allow you to go, I’m bound by the law. The punishment for this crime is $5,000 or you go to jail.”
The son pleads with his father, “But, Dad, you know I don’t have $5,000. There has to be another way to avoid jail!”
The judge stands up and takes off his robe. He walks down from the raised bench and gets down to his son’s level. Standing eye to eye next to his son, he reaches into his pocket, pulls out $5,000, and holds it out. The son is startled, but he understands there’s only one thing he can do to be free-take the money. There’s nothing else he can do. Good works or promises of good works cannot set him free. Only the acceptance of his father’s free gift can save the son from certain punishment.”
This story is copied from the book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Thank God for the free gift only He can give, that we will never deserve, and that saves us from eternal incarceration.