Imagine you are in a courtroom on trial for a crime you know you committed. In fact, everyone knows you are guilty. The ruling will come down and you will be condemned—there’s no way around it.
The judge looks at the evidence and listens to the testimony of witnesses. But then, in a dramatic turn of events, he picks up the gavel and, striking the bench like a hammer driving a nail, renders the verdict: “not guilty.”
You and everyone else know you are guilty of the accusations brought against you. But the judge has shown you mercy.
The reality is that every person saved by Jesus has been shown mercy like this. “Guilty” is the only verdict any of us deserve, and apart from Christ, it is the ruling rendered upon all men and women on this earth. All our wrongdoing and wrong-loving has stood trial, and the evidence against us is insurmountable.
Though we do not deserve to be let off the hook, God is the only judge who can and does show mercy to anyone He desires. Some might say that pronouncing a verdict of “not guilty” upon someone who is clearly guilty is unfair, and they are correct. The unfairness of this forgiveness God grants through His mercy is called grace. Grace cannot be earned, but is a gift given by God to an otherwise hopelessly guilty people.
Mercy and compassion are gifts God gives for His good pleasure, but they are not free. God does not just let us off the hook. A price must be paid for our sin. God, in His compassion and mercy, gave His only Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our violation of His law.
God will show mercy upon whom He will show mercy. But He does not set people free without penalty. That would be unjust. He pays the wage of our sin through the blood of His Son. This is our hope: the perfectly just mercy of God, given to those who do not deserve it, through the undeserved sufferings of Christ in our place.
What a great mercy! What a great cost!
Written by Jevon Washington