On the great Day of Judgment all of humanity was called before the Judgment Seat of God. There the angels sorted the people.
On the right side of the Judgment Seat was a small group. These were the elect. The angels moved among them and gave each person a small golden box.
On the left side of the Judgment Seat was a vast multitude, as far as the eye could see. Here were all the others, every person who had ever breathed in God’s creation. Men and women, the elderly and children, from every tribe and nation across the eons. Billions upon billions of souls. Like the sands on a seashore. These were the damned.
After the Great Sorting the King Upon the Throne delivered his Judgment. To those on the right he said, “You are the elect, the few I have predestined from the beginning of time to share in my bounty and live in the Holy City. I also have a gift for you. Inside the golden box you hold is this gift, the gift of eternal life. Come into your rest!”
Turning to the vast multitude on his left the King continued, “You are the damned. Although it is in my power to do so, I have chosen not to save you. To bring glory to myself I have chosen to save only these few. So depart, you wicked ones, into the fires I have prepared for you before the beginning of time!”
There was a great and heavy silence in heaven as these terrible words of judgment were uttered.
This stillness was broken when a small, lone figure on the right side of the Judgment Seat stepped forward and away from the elect.
It was a young girl. She moved slowly to the foot of the Throne and there she kneeled. The Heavenly Host held its collective breath.
The girl began to speak with a trembling voice.
“Most Holy God, Lord and King. I have no right to speak to you. No right to make a request. But as I look on the vast multitude of the damned my heart breaks within me. These are the ones you have asked me–for my whole life and with all the strength I have–to love, and serve, and forgive. And I do love them as you have taught me to love them. And there are so, so many. And I also know that I deserve the same punishment that they deserve. Your salvation is a gift freely given and I deserve it no more than any other human being.
So this is my request, Most Awesome King. I ask that my gift be given to one of these. Save one of them rather than me. Please number me among the transgressors. I wish to give my life so that another might live.”
And with a trembling hand she set her golden box on the ground before the Throne.
A tremor of joy pulsed through the Heavenly Host as a smile broke out upon the Face of God. And then stepping down from the Throne, where he had been seated quietly watching at his Father’s Right Hand, came the Lamb Who Had Been Slain.
The Prince of Heaven came forward and lifted the face of the young girl, the holes in his hands visible to all. The Image of the Invisible God spoke tenderly, with tears in his eyes, “Well done–very, very well done–my good and faithful servant.”
And then the Lamb Who Had Been Slain stood and turned to the elect, each clutching at their golden box.
To these the Crucified One declared, “Depart into judgment, you who never knew me.”
Thanks to Richard Beck for this one.