Proper punctuation saves lives—just ask Maria Fedorovna. She was the wife of one of Russia’s vilest emperors, Alexander III (1845–1894). He ruled as Tsar of Russia in the late 1800s, centralizing power, castigating Jews, and condemning Western ideals. Maria, on the other hand, was sympathetic and sensitive, proving the old idiom that opposites attract. According to legend, Alexander signed an executive order deporting an alleged traitor to exile. The order simply read, “Pardon impossible, to be sent away to Siberia.” Maria, driven by kindness, moved the comma, making the order read, “Pardon, impossible to be sent away to Siberia.” The charges were dismissed, and the man was released, all because of a change in punctuation.
All who are justified by faith in Christ have experienced the same thing (Romans 3:21-28; Gal. 2:16). If you are saved by grace through faith, God moved the comma for you (Eph. 2:8-9). The Judge of all sinners has pardoned those whose hope is in Christ alone. The divine dictum for your trespasses once read, “Pardon impossible, to be sent away to eternal destruction” (Matthew 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:7). Because of Christ, it now reads, “Pardon, impossible to be sent away to eternal destruction” (John 5:24; 10:28; Jude 1:24).
As a matter of fact, the penal prescript for your punishment has been completely scrapped. As Paul said,
“[God has] forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14-15).
Your hell-sentence was not commuted, as if it were shortened or lessened; instead, it was obliterated. You will never be exiled from the presence of God. You will never spend even a minute paying for your sins in hell.
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).