The great preacher G. Campbell Morgan was once approached by a miner who said, “I would give anything to believe that God will forgive sins, but I cannot believe He will forgive me if I just turn to Him. It is too cheap.” Morgan replied, “You were working in the mine today. How did you get out of the pit?” The miner answered, “I got into the cage and was pulled to the top.” Morgan asked, “And how much did you pay to come out of the pit?” “I didn’t pay anything,” said the miner. “Well,” said Morgan, “weren’t you afraid to trust yourself to that cage? Wasn’t it too cheap?” “Oh no,” said the miner, ” it was cheap for me, but it cost the company a lot of money.” That gave Morgan the perfect lead-in to explain that the salvation the miner called “cheap” cost Jesus His life and that Jesus is the cage God uses to pull men out of the pit. We don’t have to reconstruct that cage or pay for it. All we have to do is climb aboard it and let it pull us up from the pit.
Consider the following passages (all from the N.K.J.V.):
-Mark 14:64-65: And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands. That’s not cheap.
-Matthew 27:26: And when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. (A scourge was a whip in which the thongs were weighted with jagged pieces of bone or metal to rip away more of the victim’s flesh.) That’s not cheap.
Isaiah 50:6: I gave My back to those who struck Me, and my cheeks to those who plucked out the beard. I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. That’s not cheap.
Isaiah 52:14: His visage (appearance) was marred more than any man. That’s not cheap.
-Matthew 27:28-31: And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified. That’s not cheap.
-Luke 23:35-36: And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” Then the soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” That’s not cheap.
-John 19:32-34: Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. That’s not cheap.
-Isaiah 53:5: But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him. And by His stripes we are healed. That’s not cheap.
Many of us have seen the Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ. Admittedly, the film is not without its drawbacks, most of which stem from Gibson’s Catholicism. For one thing, the virgin Mary is played up too much. For another, certain scenes are based upon the so-called “visions” of a nineteenth-century nun rather than the Biblical text. Still, though, despite these flaws, the movie has spiritual value in that it graphically depicts Christ’s death in a way that other films don’t. Actually, Gibson probably goes a little too far with the brutality of Christ’s scourging. At least, however, the film doesn’t try to clean up the very messy and very bloody process of a Roman scourging and crucifixion.
The bottom line is this: If we think salvation is cheap, it’s only because we don’t properly understand what it cost Jesus. Isaiah 53:7 says, “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter.” Let’s not miss the imagery of that word “slaughter.” A “slaughter” is not a pretty scene. It isn’t for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. Being whipped with a scourge produces real blood flowing from real stripes. Having a crown of thorns placed upon your head produces real blood flowing from real cuts. Having nails driven through your hands and feet produces real blood flowing from real puncture wounds. Being pierced with a spear produces real blood oozing from a real gash.
Why did they offer Jesus that sour wine as He hung on the cross? They did it because the wine was a narcotic that was used to deaden excruciating pain. Why did Jesus say to doubting Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side” (John 20:27)? He did it because those marks on His body were conclusive evidence of a terrible death.
And why did Jesus voluntarily submit to such a death? He did it to pay the sin debt of the entire human race (1 John 2:2). Now He asks each person to believe in Him as Savior so His death can stand good for that person’s sins and provide forgiveness for them (John 3:16). So, tell me, have you done that? If you haven’t, just know that you are ignoring a salvation that was very, very costly.