“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 2:1, NIV)
“We, the jury, find the defendant guilty.”
Those are the words our foreman read representing all 12 of us who had served those two days on a criminal-case jury panel at the Lubbock County Courthouse. We then sentenced the defendant to just under 50 years in the state penitentiary. It was his 3rd felony conviction.
Afterward, I couldn’t help but ponder the parallels – and contrasts – between our human courts of law and how the Bible describes a believer’s position in Christ.
There was no question with any us on the jury – the defendant was guilty. Likewise, in terms of eternal life and our relationship with a holy God, you and I are guilty, as well. There is no question. “If we claim to be without sin,” John wrote, “we deceive ourselves,” because “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” (1 John 1:8; Romans 3:23)
I can assure you the Defense Attorney assigned to defend the defendant had no interest in saying, “Hey Judge, clearly this man is guilty and deserves his punishment. But I love him and want to take his punishment, thereby, allowing him to walk out of this courtroom a free man.”
But once upon a time – in a higher court – that is exactly what Jesus Christ did for us – except the stakes were much higher. The Judge was God the Father and the punishment was the death penalty. The defendant was mankind. The crime was rebellion against the Judge Himself, God. As mind-boggling as this may sound, this is where the story confounds most. God, Himself, would “put on skin”, and not only defend us in court, but offer to take the full penalty for our crime. Jesus’ death had to prove to be the one perfect atoning sacrifice to fully satisfy God’s penalty for sin. Personifying a love beyond our ability to understand, our advocate – our defense attorney, if you will – pleaded our hopeless case. The Father then looked upon us, already declared guilty beyond all possible doubt and, by placing our guilt – and death sentence – on Jesus, declared us innocent of all charges. Jesus died our death. And, three days later, conquered it by rising from the dead – making it possible for our crime to be eradicated, nullified,….forgiven, once for all.
This is the Gospel.
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath…..He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (Romans 5:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick