After my peaceful weekend at the beach, I returned home to reality – I had to report for jury duty. The whole criminal justice process makes me a little nervous – arriving on time to the courthouse, checking in my purse and bag through the scanner (with several books of reading material that I did not need!), and hoping that some obscure object in my purse will not to
set off the alarm. Sitting in the jury room with people I did not know, I may have read a chapter when my name was called. After I was selected to replace a dismissed candidate, the judge cross examined me, “And what does your husband do for this company?” I was so nervous I could not remember his job title! I kept repeating hesitantly, “Computer….computer….?” (To my defense, he recently started a new job about a month ago.) Thankfully, the judge light heartedly said, “I think we got it… something with computers” as he and the whole courtroom chuckled with me.
I became familiar with the courtroom as I sat with twleve other strangers for two days listening intently to a criminal case. The judge’s desk and chair were structured to be slightly elevated above the witness stand. Within his hands the entire law – especially in regard to our case was accessible and read to the jury. Immediately, impressions of respect and honor, not only in regards to the physical position, but in attitude were given to the judge. Every time the judge gave an attorney “the floor” to speak, they rose and said, “Your honor…” In discrepancies of questioning the attorneys would ask in unison, “Your honor, May we approach the bench?”
I admit being on a jury was not exactly where I wanted to spend my time, but I resigned to serve as my civic duty. Thankfully, we had one evening to think through the case – for me, I prayed for guidance and discernment. As you know, there are always two sides to every story!
Thankfully after the closing remarks by the attorneys, the case proved itself. The jury’s deliberation lasted thirty to forty-five minutes as we each went around the table to share our individual judgment: guilty or not guilty and why. Unanimously we voted – there was insufficient evidence and the defendant was not guilty. Our decision was finalized based on the word “intentional” assault.
Everyone should serve as a juror once or twice in their lifetime; the experience does make you thankful for our court system, and the law. The court system is set up to fairly establish justice.
My verse from last week came flooding into my mind as I sat listening in the courtroom, “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. The Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18). As we approach God’s presence in prayer, do we approach God with the honor due him? I am convinced that when we enter our time of prayer with honor and praise of who God is… Our Creator, Maker, Sustainer, Redeemer – we will be able to leave our time of prayer entrusting our problems into God’s hands to work out his will.
Someday, scriptures say, we will all stand before the Righteous Judge. What will be our plea? A recent song by Third Day says it well, simply yet weighty, our plea will be, “I trust in Jesus.” We cannot trust in man’s opinion of us, or our own good works. There is only one way to be acquitted – which is by the way implying that we are all guilty before His Honor.
We are tried for our offenses. Offenses we commit toward God are simply when we choose to disobey his law, God’s Word given to us for our protection. I can be frustrated for a repeated interruption to my work – I lose my patience with my kids and snap an answer, or when they complain that there’s nothing to eat and I just went to the store!
Each of us must determine to live with eternity in mind? Do you believe there will be a final judgment? There is a lot of discussion even today if America is suffering under God’s judgment. I do believe what we are experiencing with the economy, God is allowing from the consequences of our choices as a society, living in rebellion against God’s view of money. Do you believe you have lived life with no offenses or have you earned enough good deeds to out-weigh the offenses on your record? If you believe you are without offense, or your good deeds have cancelled out your mistakes – then what Jesus did wasn’t necessary.
Why would Jesus suffer the most brutal death in history –mocked, rejected, abused for no purpose? He suffered an agonizing death for you and me – to free us from the curse of the law. We cannot keep the law by our own efforts – there is no way. Some days the whole “Love your neighbor as yourself” flies out the window at my house first thing in the morning.
The Lord is a God of justice. He judges fairly. All he does is right. His justice is full of grace and mercy because of what Jesus has done. In honor, he rises to show us compassion – every day! He knows we have a sin nature prone to wander from the One we are designed to love, prone to disobey the law. He knows we aren’t perfect, nor can we attain perfection, so he has made a way for us to approach him by grace alone and be declared, “Not guilty.”
Just as our jury let the defendant go free – innocent with no “intentional” assault. Through Jesus’ blood and by his last echoed prayers, “Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34) we too can be declared innocent. No jury, no attorney can plead your case. The only condition as we stand before the Judge: we must be able to say whole heartedly, “I trust in Jesus.”
Today’s Prayer Journal Task
- How does your life honor God, the God of justice?
- How can you approach him with honor?
- Are there offenses that you have committed toward God that you need to confess and believe that Jesus blood and prayers are enough to acquit you?
- Maybe someone has offended you… Is it time to forgive them with the forgiveness you too have received and let God be the Judge?