The urban dictionary describes funny money as “false money, especially counterfeit money.” Apparently it’s not that uncommon these days. You expect to have a $100 bill inspected for a purchase, but even giving a $20 at the store usually results in the cashier swiping it with a special marker to check its authenticity.
A few years ago a docudrama “End of the Spear” was presented to honor the fiftieth anniversary of the massacre of recent Wheaton grads Jim Elliot and his passionate young missionary friends. The grads had made heroic efforts to evangelize the unreached and fearsome Waodoni Indians of Ecuador. The Waodonis suddenly turned on the five missionaries who, offering no defense, gave their lives for the cause of Christ.
One of the young missionaries had an eight year old son, who has spent his life trying to reach the same men who killed his father. This past decade he brought Mincayani, the man who killed his father, back to visit his home in Michigan. It was a culture shock for the Indian. The experience of undeserved love has resulted in the salvation of many of the tribe members that his father died to win to Christ.
Returning to his home in Ecuador, he described the Americans as overtly friendly. “They have huge barns of every kind of food you can imagine, and you just take whatever you want.” The American tried to explain that wasn’t exactly true, you had to give them one of these (he showed them a credit card). The Indian said “sure, but they just smile and give it right back to you again.” Funny Money – not really real.
It is just as difficult for believers to grasp the price Jesus paid for us. Really Paul? Joseph (the Old Testament patriarch) was a type of Christ. Rejected by his elder brothers he suffered falsely. He knew what they meant for evil, God meant for good, sending him ahead to save the world – giving them bread for life.
At one point in the story his brothers tried to tell Joseph’s house steward they had no idea who put the money back in the mouth of their grain sacks. Ge.43:23 the steward said, "Everything's in order. Don't worry. Your God and the God of your father must have given you a bonus. I was paid in full."
Joseph didn’t use his status as second in command of all of Egypt. He paid the price for the grain and put his brother’s money back in their sack. Father didn’t just imagine away the law’s demand for our sin nature. Jesus paid the price in full. Jesus’ death wasn’t like going to sleep, knowing He’d wake up in three days. That wasn’t funny money.
The inflexible demands of the law had to be paid. Jesus really took the stripes, tasted the rejection, satisfied the debt, died the innocent-lamb death and rose triumphant so that we could have life abundantly and free. It wasn’t free – funny money. It cost Jesus everything, which He freely gives to us.
There is no minimizing the cost paid, and the value God places on your life, willingly exchanging His son for you. As the steward told Joseph’s brothers “Your God must have given you a bonus. I was paid in full.” That is undeserved, unmerited favor. That is extravagant love lavished upon us by amazing Grace. That’s Jesus. Yes He really is – Just that in to you!