After a tiring two-week criminal trial in a high profile bank robbery case, the jury finally ended its 14 hours of deliberations and entered the courtroom to deliver its verdict to the judge. The judge turned to the jury foreman and asked, “Has the jury reached a verdict in this case?”
“Yes we have, your honor,” the foreman responded.
“Would you please pass it to me?” the judge declared, as he motioned for the bailiff to retrieve the verdict slip from the foreman and deliver it to him.
After the judge read the verdict himself, he delivered the verdict slip back to his bailiff to be returned to the foreman and instructed the foreman, “Please read your verdict to the court.”
“We find the defendant NOT GUILTY of all four counts of bank robbery,” stated the foreman.
The family and friends of the defendant jumped for joy at the sound of the “not guilty” verdict and hugged each other as they shouted expressions of gratitude. The defendant’s attorney turned to his client and asked, “So, what do you think about that?”
The defendant said, “I’m real confused here. Does this mean that I don’t have to give all the money back?”
This story related by Alan Smith is probably apocryphal. However, as Alan says it could have been true. In our day we have witnessed the powerful, rich and politically connected get away with lying, obstruction of justice and dereliction of duty. They go unpunished. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes put it this way: “If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them.”
Yet, while we bemoan the lack of justice, there is a reality that all of us are guilty of sin. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Indeed, “there is none righteous, no not one” (Rom 3:10). My sins, and yours, separate us from a holy God. There is no denying that we are guilty. And death is the penalty for sin.(Rom. 6:23).
Since God is a holy and just God, sin cannot go unpunished. So, this is why He sent Jesus Christ to earth. He paid the price for my sins. And yours.
The Hebrew writer affirmed, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” It was the guiding principle behind the Old Testament animal sacrifices. However, with those sacrifices was a remembrance of sin every year. It was not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to really remit sin. (Heb 10:3).
I cannot pay the price for my salvation. Because I am the sinner! However, this is where God’s mercy intervenes. It’s where grace meets justice. And love pays the debt that I owe, but cannot pay!
That is why Jesus’ death was necessary. It explains so much. Why Jesus surrendered the glory of heaven and came into this wicked world. Why he lived among men, and even became a servant of men. Why he relinquished his prerogatives. Why he allowed himself to be betrayed. Denied. And forsaken. Why he had to be beaten. Battered. And bloodied as he was nailed to the cross.
It explains why Jesus suffered all alone. It explains the piercing cry, My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”
The fact that Jesus’ death was a judicial necessity speaks to the relevance of the Old Testament and to the need of Calvary’s cross to a questioning generation that must find relevance in everything!
Every Sunday when we partake of communion we are reminded of the importance of Christ’s death on the cross. God’s justice demanded death as a payment for sin. However, God’s mercy spared us from death. God’s grace offers another solution. And God’s love, demonstrated in Jesus, sent Him to the cross “to be sin for us” and offer the perfect vicarious sacrifice.
Because of Jesus’ judicial death, we can have our sins washed away, enjoy justification, receive sanctification, and savor all spiritual blessings in Christ.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman