"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that
whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting
Life" (John 3: 16).
The late Czar Nicholas of Russia often used to wander about his
military camps and barracks clothed as an ordinary officer, in order
that he might know, without being known, what was going on.
Late one night, when all lights were supposed to be extinguished, the
Czar was making one of these tours of inspection. He noticed a light
shining under the paymaster's door, and quietly opened it and stepped
inside, intending to have the offender punished. A young officer, son
of an old friend of the Czar, was seated at a table, his head resting
on his arms, and sound asleep. The Czar stepped over to awaken him,
but before doing so, noticed a loaded revolver, a small pile of money,
and a sheet of paper with a pen that had fallen from the hand of the
sleeping man. The light of the little candle let the Czar read what
had just been written, and in a moment he understood the situation.
On the sheet of paper was a long list of debts due to gambling and
other vices. The total ran into many thousands of roubles. The officer
had used army funds to pay these wicked, reckless debts, and now,
having worked till late into the night trying to get his accounts
straight, had discovered for the first time how much he owed. It was
hopeless; the pitifully small balance on hand left such a huge deficit
to be made up! On the sheet of paper, below the terrible total, was
written this question: "WHO CAN PAY SO GREAT A DEBT'? Unable to face
the disgrace, the officer had intended shooting himself, but
completely worn out with sorrow and remorse, he had fallen asleep.
As the Czar realized what had happened, his first thought was to have
the man immediately arrested, and in due course brought before a court
martial. Justice must be done in the army, and such a crime could not
be passed by. But as he remembered the long friendship with the young
officer's father, Love overcame Judgment, and in a moment he had
devised a plan whereby he could be just towards the army and yet
justify the culprit. The Czar took up the pen that had dropped from
the hand of the wearied, hopeless offender and with his own hand
answered the question with one word, "NICHOLAS'.
Yes, the Czar himself, Nicholas, could pay that debt, and voluntarily
undertook to do so. The young officer wakened soon after the Czar had
gone, and took up his revolver to blowout his brains, but as he did
so, his eyes saw the answer written by the Czar. In bewildered
astonishment he gazed on that one word, "NICHOLAS." Surely such an
answer was impossible! He had some papers in his possession, which
bore the genuine signature' of the Czar, and quickly he compared the
names, for it seemed too good to be true, To his intense joy, yet
bitter humiliation, he realized that his Czar knew all about his sins,
knew the utmost of his mighty debt, and yet instead of inflicting the
penalty he deserved, had assumed the debt himself, and justified the
Joyfully and peacefully he lay down to rest, and early the next
morning bags of money arrived from the Czar, sufficient to pay the
last cent of "so great a debt."
Dear reader, you and I have a mighty debt. We may well ask, "Who can
pay it?" Thank God, Love has provided an answer, and like the answer
given by the Czar it is one word, "JESUS".
Yes, He knows all about your debt. He knows how great it is. He knows
how you came by it. He knows all the shame of it. He knows the cost of
payment, and in spite of such intimate knowledge of you and your debt,
He has assumed the full liability of it Himself. One word "Nicholas,"
set the heart of that young man at rest; even filled it with joy. One
word, "JESUS" has set my heart at rest and filled it with joy. Has
that "one word", that one blessed Name filled your heart with rest,
peace, and joy? Of course, it can!