The last place you would expect to see a clear picture of salvation is in a criminal courtroom.
You hear the clinking of shackles and handcuffs as prisoners shuffle in and out. You hear sobs and pleas of those who have broken the law. You sit by the families of victims and you sense their anguish and desire for justice. The room is filled with a sense of hopelessness.
Yet, while standing in support of a friend earlier this week, I saw one of the clearest pictures God has ever shown me of our salvation in Jesus Christ.
I made it to the courtroom early and sat down in the back. Substance abuse offenders on probation were checking in with the judge for their weekly appointments. Most of them received a pat on the back from the judge for fulfilling their commitments to the court, attending treatment programs, obtaining their GEDs, and finding jobs. I watched as more than 30 people talked to the judge, received his blessing, returned to their seats in the courtroom, and waited until everyone else in the program had checked in.
But there was one young lady who had not fulfilled her responsibilities to the court. She hadn’t gotten a job after two years in the program and hadn’t paid her court costs and fines. She had a daughter who was less than two years old, and now she was going back to prison for the entire length of her original two-year sentence.
“I have no choice,” the judge said. “You have not done what is required by the court. I have given you plenty of time and plenty of chances. I’ll give you a couple of days to make arrangements for the care of your child. But I can’t help you any longer. I must enforce the requirements of this court.”
This young lady had no hope. She sobbed and nearly collapsed from the realization she was about to lose her freedom.
Then, something miraculous happened. A young man in the back of the room, who had checked in with the judge earlier and had been widely applauded for his efforts to clean up his life, stood up and asked to address the judge.
“She has made mistakes,” he said. “But she can be a great leader. It’s tough out there right now. It’s tough to find a job. I believe she can do this. I believe in her. Can you make an exception and give her another chance?”
The judge sat back in his chair. “Because this man has stood up for you, I’ll give you one more chance. You have 30 days to find a job.”
God, the Great I AM, has no choice but to judge us. He loves and created us, but He is perfect. He is justice personified. He is impartial. He can’t look on sin or evil. He must destroy it. He is the great Judge sitting at the bench considering our sins against Him. He has no recourse but to unleash His judgment on us.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, never sinned, but He has walked a mile in our shoes. He knows it’s tough down here on Planet Earth. He understands the temptations and struggles we face. He knows sin. He has carried the weight of it on the cross. But He also knows us. He loves us and wants to save us. He wants to call us His friends. He wants us to lead, and He wants us to succeed. He is fully God and fully Man. He is our Intercessor, the One pleading to God on our behalf, asking that our slate be wiped clean because of His blood sacrifice on the cross.
Jesus Christ has stood up for me in the courtroom today. He has interceded for me with the Father. I am a sinner, I have accepted His gift of forgiveness, and I am grateful. He has given me new life.
He has given me freedom. Out of love and out of gratitude, I gladly take up His cross daily.