There was a young man caught and found guilty of murder many decades ago, and sentenced to death. His mother and father loved him with all their hearts, and they appealed to everyone they met for leniency for their son. Without any results they finally appealed to the Governor of their state for a lesser sentence, but to everyone’s surprise the Governor granted this young man a full pardon. 
A pardon is a document that essentially erases a crime, making it as if it never happened. The pardon was sent to the prisoner, with instructions to release him from prison. When the Warden told the young man about the pardon, he became angry and said, “I’m guilty, I murdered another human being and I want to die.” 
“But,” the Warden replied, “I have your pardon in my hand!” No matter how the Warden pleaded, the prisoner kept demanding to die. Not knowing what to do, the Warden appealed to the Judge, to help him know what to do. The Judge said, “A pardon is not a pardon unless it is accepted!” 
So, the young man was executed. He had been completely forgiven for his sins against humanity, and for his other most grievous crimes. So why did he die? Because a pardon is not a pardon unless it is accepted! 
Jesus died in the place of every human being, who by their sins against God were deserving of the death penalty. Every human being who would ever live has been granted an unconditional pardon from God. But the catch is that you must WANT the pardon; you must see the need for the pardon and desire to have it! The pardon from God came when Jesus Christ, God’s son, died on the cross for your sins. To accept the pardon means that you must believe that Jesus did this for you (He did what you could not do) and to accept Him therefore as your Savior and ask Him to be Lord of your life.