Out of ninety-eight people scheduled for traffic court this morning, only half showed up. Of the half who made the effort, only three pled an initial “guilty” during the roll call moment. Those three were moved to the front of the court docket to have their cases resolved first.
One of those three was my son. He was part of the three percent willing to take ownership of his mistake. In doing so, he saved himself some time and received a reduced sentence for his crime.
Traffic school (to which he presented his certificate of prior attendance) and $165 in court costs and…
No points on his license.
Honesty wins the day! Honesty doesn’t come without consequences, but honesty often tills the soil for favor in the eyes of the judge. Being able to “own” our issues, our mistakes and our sins, is a key to our continuing growth as a human being.
As it goes with our flesh, so it goes with our faith.
Honesty wins the day. Confessing our sin before the Judge always merits his kind favor, his grace, his forgiving love. Never once does our Judge turn aside an honest confession. Instead, he listens intently for our intent and pronounces judgment accordingly.
No traffic school. No court costs. No points on our license. None. Done. Dismissed from judgment with nothing more than the loving grip of grace to accompany our steps home.
Because long ago on a hillside, another stood in our stead and received the verdict for our crimes. A once and for all “guilty” so that we might find favor with the King. Instead of allowing us to linger with our punishment, Jesus Christ surrendered his body to our pain. He paid the cost. He absorbed the sharp prick of the “points” applied to his flesh and the lengthy stay required in the courtroom until the work had been accomplished, finished and completed for all eternity.
His admission of guilt freed us from having to continue in ours. His willingness to “serve the time” freed us from unnecessary seasons behind bars which, in the end, could never adequately proffer in fair exchange for the crimes against God that we’ve committed.
Jesus Christ became “sin” for us, so that through him, we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). What does that mean?
It means that we are as clean before the King. That what Christ did 2000 years ago was enough to purify us so that we can stand before the Judge spotless, guiltless, free to speak our witness because of Christ’s witness on a cross.
A familiar truth to most of us; in fact, one so well-worn that when we hear it again, read it again, we’re tempted to move past it without re-absorbing the impact of its witness. Familiarity often breeds passivity—a complacent forgetfulness regarding the merit of the witness.
Would you be willing this day, perhaps even in this moment, to play that courtroom scene out again in your own heart? To relive that moment when you first tasted God’s grace in full measure? To picture yourself there, before the Judge, when the roll call commences?
You, awaiting the sound of your name from his lips, preparing your heart for your “guilty” confession when the time comes to answer his question “How do you plead?” You’re shaking, perhaps sweating, wanting desperately to state your case but understanding that any objection you can offer for your sin seems as foolishness in the light of his glorified presence. You’re wanting to get a pass, but fairly confident that none will be offered.
That is, until your name is called, and the question is asked, and rather than looking at you squarely in the eye, the Judge casts his glance in another direction—to the One who stands by your side in your defense—and looks him squarely in the eye and says…
“How do you plead, Son?”
“Guilty, Father, let the prisoner go. She is clean; he is clean. I am the One cloaked with the responsibility… the sin. See me; free them.”
And with those words, and because of that sacred surrender, your time in court is over. You leave the scene a free person. No blemish to your record; no shame attached to your name. It doesn’t make sense… this sacred exchange between your flesh and Christ’s, but you receive it nonetheless. Grateful for the reprieve; mindful of the cost.
And today, if you’ve made it this far with my words and with your remembering, then your heart, like mine, should be filled to overflow with gratitude for the One who stands beside us to plead our worthiness before the Judge.
Today, I walk my grace with continued thankfulness for the gift of Calvary. I am guilty of a great many crimes against God. I’m not sure what percentage of the world’s population is willing to admit personal guilt along these lines; perhaps, three percent is too generous an estimation, but if three out of a hundred are going to make the good confession, then I want to be part of the three. I want the honest admission of my heart to be the catalyst that moves me forward in my growth as a Christian, and I want the favor of the Judge on my behalf.
Honesty wins the day. Always. In the courtroom of life; in the courtroom of grace.
Bend the knee and bow your heart this day; your posture of reverent confession is the precursor to God’s pardon. As always…
peace for the journey,
Copyright © November 2009 – Elaine Olsen