I read a story of a judge presiding at a court in the poorest section of the city. It was during the hardest years of the Great Depression. Brought before him was an elderly woman charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She made no attempt to deny the charges. Her daughter's husband had abandoned the family, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving. The victimized store owner refused to drop the charges.
The judge looked at the woman and told her that the law left him no alternative. She was guilty and the penalty was ten dollars or ten days in jail. As he pronounced the sentence, he pulled out a ten dollar bill and instructed the bailiff to pay her fine. Then, with the bang of his gavel, he declared he was fining everyone in the courtroom fifty cents for living in a city where a poor woman had to steal bread to feed her starving family. She went away that day with a total of $47.50 collected from everyone in that courtroom including the irate grocer who refused to drop the charges.
The example of the actions of the judge in this story reminds us of the grace of God. The woman was guilty of a crime. All of us are guilty before God. We may not be guilty of stealing a loaf of bread but we have other sins that are far greater than that. Our sins must be paid for. Like the woman in the story, we do not have the means to make recompense for our guilt. Someone had to pay our fine for us. God sent his Son Jesus, who is without sin, to pay the debt for our sin. Because He died and rose again, people who deserve God's penalty for their wrongdoing can receive the very opposite--forgiveness and life that never ends. All who accept Jesus's payment for sin are declared perfect and holy and can enter into a relationship with God.
The Bible says in II Corinthians 8:9 "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." Grace is the generous character of the God who displays unmerited, undeserved, and abundant favor to undeserving sinners.
When the old woman left the judge's courtroom, her debt had been paid in full. God's salvation comes at the cost of the death of His son. He doesn't simply excuse our debt or ignore it. He eliminates it by paying it fully.