shutterstock_245306701-court-gavel

Guilty as Charged

shutterstock_121502677-jury-boxJUROR #3. That was me. I was one of twelve jury members on a federal court case a couple weeks ago. As a group, we listened to witnesses, sorted through evidence, and decided unanimously on three separate charges the defendant faced.

I never dreamed it would be so hard.

At the beginning and the end of the trial, the judge told us the defendant was considered innocent on all three counts until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. Our decisions must be based on the evidence only and not the opening or closing statements of the attorneys. Our decisions must be unanimous.

We deliberated almost six hours. The third count, which I thought would be the easiest to decide, took over two hours by itself. If only the evidence had been crystal clear, our decisions would have been easy. But it wasn’t. After listening to each other and discussing what we heard and saw during the trial, we finally agreed on all three verdicts. One not guilty and two guilty.

Thinking about my role as a juror, I am overwhelmed. As part of the jury, I was responsible for the defendant’s future. The jury’s decision would affect the life of this defendant for many years to come whether he was found guilty or not.

I knew in my heart I  needed to be able to lay my head on my pillow at night and rest comfortably with the decision I made. I was not only upholding the law in our country, but my decision had to meet God’s approval, also. The highest judge of all.

Someday I will stand before God just as the defendant stood before our jury. Unlike our decision, which could only be made based on what was presented to us, God sees everything I have ever done. There is no hiding or covering up. My sins are laid bare before Him.

shutterstock_390148498-guiltyI am guilty as charged.

The book of Roman’s states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Yet as sobering as that might be, we have hope. We have an advocate. There is someone to stand up for us. Someone who is willing to take our place so we might be free.

His name is Jesus.

John writes in 1 John 2:1-2, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

“He (Jesus) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Romans 4:25.

4-crossJesus Christ died for our sins.

After sitting in a courtroom for three days, I am humbled Jesus loved me so much He was willing to take my place before God Almighty. Before I was ever born, Jesus stood in my place. He took God’s wrath. He reaped my punishment. A punishment I deserve. Because of Jesus’ great love for me; because of His mercy and grace, I don’t have to hear God say, “Guilty as charged.” Instead,

I will hear Him say, “You are free. Go and sin no more.”

What a tremendous blessing we have in the love of our Father and Jesus Christ. May we be forever grateful for the gift Jesus so willingly gave us. The gift of His death for our sins.

“and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24, NIV)

Prayer:  Almighty God, I prostrate myself before  you and ask forgiveness for my sins. I know Jesus paid the price, but it just doesn’t seem fair that I should walk away free of my actions. Let me never forget Jesus’ gift of life. Each time I sin, allow me to feel the nails He endured on my behalf. May I live my life responsibly and make choices that please You, Father God. In Your precious Son’s name I pray, Amen.