Several years ago the San Diego Union newspaper ran an amusing story about two men on trial for armed robbery. The robbery wasn’t funny. But what occurred in court was more than amusing.
An eye-witness took the stand and the prosecutor got up to begin his questioning. First he asked the eyewitness, “You were at the scene of the robbery?”
“Yes,” answered the witness.
“You saw a vehicle leave at a high rate of speed?”
“Did you observe the occupants?” asked the prosecutor.
Then in a booming voice the prosecutor asked, “And are those two men in this courtroom today?”
Before the witness could respond, both defendants raised their hands!
Their own guilt sealed their fate.
Guilt is an old as mankind. When Adam and Eve sinned. They felt shame. Fear. And guilt. They foolishly tried to hide. It was a futile attempt to cover their sin. Adam was not equipped to cope with guilt. And neither are we. Not by ourselves.
On the Friday Christ was crucified guilt was present in overwhelming abundance. From Judas’ betrayal to Peter’s denial. From the Sanhedrin court to the court of public opinion. From Pilate’s palace to Herod’s house. From the Jewish leaders to the Roman soldiers. All were guilty.
Pilate tried to wash his hands of guilt. Peter cried his eyes out with guilt. And guilt-ridden Judas hanged himself. None of these solved the nagging problem of their guilt.
Ironically, the very One who was dying on Calvary’s cross was the only One free from guilt. Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” (Lk. 23:4). However, Jesus would be the solution to their guilt. And ours. They needed a savior. And so do we. All of us can relate to David’s feelings when he wrote, “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear” (PS 38:4).
Thank God the burden of sin and guilt was lifted at Calvary! God’s grace in sending Jesus to die for our sins began the guilt-relieving process. When we admit our sins, come to Christ, confess His name and crucify ourselves as we die with Him in the water of baptism, He promises to cleanse us with His sinless blood! (Matt 11:28-30; Rom. 10:9-10; 6:1-17; Ax 22:16).
Peter and the rest of the apostles experienced God’s grace and the absolution of their guilt following Sunday’s resurrection. Jesus’ victory was not just a victory over death, but the triumph over Satan. Sin. And the guilt of sin. No more does the human race have to live in fear of death and it’s foreboding feeling.
Paul rhetorically asks, “Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” His answer? “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 15:55-57)
Are you bearing the burden of guilt? Come to the cross! Bring your burdens to Christ! At Calvary there is cleansing. And grace to rid your conscience of guilt. And that is Good News!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman