An old hymn begins: “He paid a debt he did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay.” Unfortunately, it would appear from some Christian lifestyles that God’s payment of their debt has resulted in them being “even” with God, owing Him nothing.
Exodus 13 reminds us such is not true.
God led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery. For that, they would be forever indebted to God – an indebtedness they remembered each year with the Passover sacrifice but also, the sacrifice of every “first” in their lives: the first of every crop, the firstborn of every animal, and the firstborn male child in every family. While animals and humans could be “redeemed” (substituted) by others, the debt was perpetually there. Payment would be required by every family member, and all of their descendants, forever, because of that one saving act of God – despite the fact that succeeding generations did not personally experience the Exodus event. It was a debt they could never repay.
Our sin results in a debt we can never repay either, with a non-payment penalty of death. But Jesus’ payment of that debt, while removing the penalty of death, results in a debt to God equally as great. We cannot pay this debt, but we are required to remember it, and to live our lives in deep appreciation for the grace that made death’s escape possible. We must live lives that demonstrate daily our appreciation for the payment Christ made. And once a week, we must gather with God’s people to formally remember that great price freely paid. It’s part of what the Lord’s Supper, our Passover, is all about.