Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell was declared not guilty earlier this week. He had been accused of child sex offences. He drives away from the court a free man with a smile on his face. I think you’d be smiling.
As far as we can tell he has been fairly tried and is innocent and should be free from accusation or slur.
But just suppose as a simple thought experiment, that he was in fact guilty but now has been declared innocent? What if the crimes were even worse, even more serious than child sex abuse? And what if the judge declared him innocent because someone else paid the fine and took the punishment.
That’s not how justice is supposed to work. Society is supposed to punish the criminal on behalf of the victim. But what if the victim were God and the serious crimes were committed against God – a God who more than anyone in the universe deserved justice, but who decided in mercy to forgive. And what if he could decide to forgive in a way that did not contradict justice and was not unfair to anyone but himself because he took the punishment himself. All of it.
That is what Jesus is all about. He shows the greatest love and the greatest moment of justice at his Roman execution. Jesus pays the fine, but we did the crime.
If you really were guilty but declared innocent, how good would that be? What kind of smile would you have on your face as you left the court?
That’s us. We drive home free.