The Archer

Author: Raven Merz — Host: Natty AndersonPosted on: October 6, 2023

Unlocked: Daily Devotions for Teens
The Archer

READ: JOHN 3:14-18; 14:5-10; ROMANS 3:21-27

I jumped when the solid oak door slammed behind me, its banging echoing through the empty chamber. The dust from the floor blew up into my nose, and I coughed, the nervous pit in my stomach growing even tighter.

Just one shot…one shot… I repeated to myself as I looked up to see the fabled target, glaring down at me from its perch on the wall.

One day every year, the king allowed new prisoners the chance to walk free if we could do one thing: shoot an arrow into the very center of this target with only one shot. Each prisoner got to try once. It was either make this shot and rejoin the kingdom with a clean slate, or miss and spend the rest of my life in the dungeons.

Our kingdom was famous for its archers. Our nobles were some of the most accurate and skilled—I’m even excellent according to some. But better archers than me had missed this shot. And now it was my turn.

Trembling, I reached back into my quiver and pulled out the one arrow I was allowed, anchoring it on my bowstring. Breathe… breathe… I lifted my bow, aiming the tip of my arrow for the target’s bright red center. My fingers clenched, threatening never to loose the arrow.

And then I saw him.

The prince. Like a ghost, he had appeared in the doorway out of the dungeons. Of all the king’s archers, he was the best. He never missed. I looked at the target, then back at him. Suddenly, I knew. He was the only one who could make this shot.

His kind eyes met my terror-filled gaze, and without another thought, I barely whispered, “I’m sorry… Help me… please.” He approached me and said, “Don’t be afraid. My Father sent me.” He took the bow from my hands, and I felt the weight of the task lift from my shoulders.

He anchored, aimed, and…

The arrow hit—dead center.

I’m free. • Raven Merz

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:23-24 (NLT)

• Today’s story is an allegory. Did you know the Greek word “hamartia” is often translated as “sin” in the Bible, but it’s also an ancient archery term that could be translated as “missing the mark”? How could it be helpful to think about sin this way?

• We’ve all missed the mark of loving God and each other (Matthew 22:37-40), and that means we’ve all sinned. The consequence of sin is death. There’s no way we could undo our sin or escape death…but God wants to save us. Because God loves us and wants to be with us, Jesus came and lived among us as a human. Jesus is God the Son, and He is the only human who never sinned, never missed the mark, and so He was able to save us by living a righteous life of obedience to God the Father, dying on the cross for our sins, and rising from the grave to defeat death. He hit the mark on our behalf. So now, everyone who puts their trust in Jesus can stand before God as though they never sinned. If you’ve put your trust in Jesus, you can rest in God’s unbreakable forgiveness and never-ending love for you. And you can look forward to the day when Jesus will return and raise you from the dead to live with Him forever in a world free from sin and death! (If you want to know more, go to our “Know Jesus” page.)

• According to Hebrews 4:14-16, we can boldly approach God’s throne because of Jesus. Even though we will all continue to struggle with sin until Jesus returns, we can know that Jesus empathizes with us because He faced the same temptations we do—yet He didn’t give in. We can be totally honest with Him about all our struggles and shortcomings. He already knows it all, and He wants to cover our faults with His mercy and help us walk in His good ways. Consider taking a moment now to come to Him in prayer. Whatever you want to say, He wants to listen.