Thursday, July 15, 2021
He stood silent with head bowed before the judge. He never thought his choices would result in such tragedy. In all his 28 years of life he had never faced his own guilt, and had never admitted his own responsibility. Yet here he stood after his arrest, facing a judge who was asking him to declare his guilt or his innocence.
He had been arrested and charged with manslaughter for being responsible for the death of a 33-year old man. His drug and alcohol use had severely impaired his judgement. He will never forget the officer of the law shouting at him as he pointed to the dead man lying on the ground. “SEE WHAT YOU DID!?!” He will never be able to remove the image of the mutilated body he saw.
The young man replies to the judge’s question with one word: “GUILTY!”
Then something amazing happens. The judge stands from his seat as he pounds his gavel on the judicial bar in front of him. “FORGIVEN!” He removes his black robe and steps down from the bench. He moves in close to the young man who stands in fear wondering what is happening. The judge speaks.
“I forgive you and declare you innocent of these charges. There is no charge left for you to face. I can do that because I am the father of the man you killed. But I want to do more than just declare you innocent. I want you to come home with me and be my son. You can have everything my son had, including his inheritance. I want to be your father.”
The judge embraces him.
The young man cannot believe what he is hearing. But he also doesn’t understand what he is feeling. The guilt and shame are being released. He feels unconditionally loved. He is overwhelmed with the grace of the embrace.
His arms slowly raise and he returns the embrace, and as he does, he uncontrollably whispers in the ear of the judge, “Father.”
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:4-7