How ironic that Tax Day and Holy Week all come together this year. Death and taxes. Taxes and death.
Ben Franklin is credited with making the legendary idiom popular in 1789: “But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Its origin actually goes back even further, to Daniel Defoe in his The Political History of the Devil in 1726 – “Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believ’d” – and even to Christopher Bullock in The Cobbler of Preston in 1716: “’Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but Death and Taxes.”
Every year I hope and pray for the Second Coming of Christ to happen on April 14th, just to stick it to both of these evil foes. Every year I end up filing anyway. And my eternal admiration goes out to our sister in Christ Myrtle, who at the age of 101 crossed over from death to life with Jesus on December 31st. This prompted her son-in-law to tell me, “She would love this, because another day and she would’ve had to file her taxes for another year.” One of the joys of paradise.
Jesus tells us to be good citizens by paying our taxes. So there’s no Biblical way out of Form 1040. Here we are almost 2000 years later, and the certainty still lives. I use TurboTax to do my taxes, and their new ad campaign has caught my eye. Their latest, lightest software version is free (I still pay for mine), and the ads play up the free: “It’s free. As in free, free. Free, free, free. Totally free.” Never has the word free been more annoying.
The reality is that nothing in life is free, including death and taxes. I’m not referring to the cost of the software or the fees at the funeral home. There is always a price to be paid, and someone has to pay it. (Side note: this includes healthcare, college tuition, debt relief and Packer tickets – it may come free to you, but somebody else is definitely footing the bill).
In the ultimate turn of cosmic events, death becomes the payment for life. Death is certain because sin is even more so. And yet, Jesus – who had absolutely zero sin of His own – became sin for us. Our faults and failures, our sinfulness and selfishness, always carry a hefty price tag, and that price must be paid. That’s justice. That’s life in the Kingdom.
Jesus pays the price. The full price. He sets us free from the hold that sin has on us, and from the fear that death puts in us. The payment for sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus (Romans 6:23). This means that getting our life back, our messes cleaned, our damage repaired and our souls saved is free. For us, not Him. You are worth that much to God.
Gifts, by definition, are free. To the recipient. Consider, however, how much love is involved for Jesus to take on that much debt for people who are unqualified, undeserving and incapable of paying their bills. His grace is free. Free free. And it works.
The love of God given to us freely in His Son is an absolute certainty. Nothing in all creation – not even death and taxes – can take it away from us. On that you can be sure. He is risen!...