Today, you stand on trial.
Your nerves shake your body to the core, as you sit in the hard wooden chair behind the defendant desk. You are alone. No attorney would take your case because the evidence is stacked against you. Behind you sits no one; the courtroom is empty.
In front of you, behind the large wooden bench, sits the judge, gavel in hand. He listens intently as the prosecuting attorney makes his case. After each piece of evidence is presented, the judge shakes his head as his eyes glance toward you. Your stomach sinks.
At the prosecuting attorney’s every word, you feel the plea for mercy slipping away. The evidence continues pile. When he speaks, his firm, raised voice announces; you are guilty. There is even a little smirk on his face; he is enjoying every moment.
The evidence against you sits as a mound on the prosecutor’s desk. It is as if it has followed you for your entire life. Every lie you have ever told is there, every harsh word is there, and simply put…everything is there.
Your life of bad is in front of you; the good is gone. Seeing the evidence, your heart weights itself with the consequences of your actions. There is nothing you can do to show yourself not guilty.
The prosecutor has done his job—well…you are guilty.
As the prosecutor closes his arguments, you sit with your head in your hands, already knowing the judge’s decision. The judge looks at you, waiting on your defense but you have none; your guilt shines as the most condemning piece of evidence. You know you have no words, no case or plea strong enough to account for mercy.
While the judge looks on, you struggle to raise your head just to acknowledge that you are guilty. Lifting your head just enough, you see the look of disappointment in the judge’s face; it breaks your heart.
The judge asks you, “Any words?” You can hear the heartache in his voice. You wonder just for a moment if he will break down. The evidence is so great it weighs on his shoulders too. Your heart breaks.
Your voice trembles and cracks as you speak, “No.”
The judge lowers his head as he raises the gavel. The sound of the gavel hitting the block scares you out of your seat. “Guilty” the judge says in a quiet tone. The decision has been made.
The courtroom is silent. You can hear the beating of your heart. It is growing louder by the moment. The silence only lasted for thirty seconds, but you were sure it was thirty minutes.
“Now, we move to the sentencing,” says the judge. “Let’s make this quick.”
You can tell in the judge’s voice, he is hurting for you. He wants to get the pain over as fast as possible and move on–as do you. Even though you know the punishment will be great.
For the second time in the day, the prosecutor approaches the bench. As he approaches, he speaks, “Your honor, there is only one punishment for these crimes. The evidence shows the guilt and now the sentence must show the consequences of these heinous acts. Your honor, the prosecution seeks death.”
“Death? Death!? Oh judge please no!” you blurt out with tears.
Your body is in shock from the prosecutor’s words. Your thoughts are rampant, “I never did anything worthy of death—maybe a few days behind bars, but not death. What is he thinking? Not death.”
While your mind races at the thought of death, you notice silence. The prosecutor is no longer speaking and everyone is looking behind you.
As you turn you see one man who just walked through the door. He walks slowly down the aisle, focused on the judge.
While he walks through the gallery section, you look back at the judge just to see the judge nod at the unknown man. The man walks through the gallery and toward the bench. Even the outspoken prosecutor remains silent–looking nervous at what is about to happen.
The unknown man looks like he is lost in time. In fact, he looks like he definitely does not belong. His robe almost reaches the floor and his sandals are as worn as any you have ever seen.
You watch in anticipation as the man speaks to the judge. Even though you are looking at him from behind, there is something familiar about this man. But you do not know what it is. The prosecutor is halfway to the bench, standing there waiting anxiously.
The judge and the unknown man shake their heads in agreement. The prosecutor quickly approaches the bench and begins to argue silently. The unknown man remains silent, before stretching out his arms. The prosecutor goes silent.
The unknown man turns and walks toward your seat. When you see him coming your way, you move to your left and give him the aisle seat.
“Is this my attorney?” You ask yourself silently, still trying to figure out who this is.
When he sits down, he looks at you and smiles. Immediately, you feel at ease.
After a few moments of discussion, the prosecutor sits down. When he sits, he plops himself in the chair like an upset child who just had something taken away.
The judge speaks again, but this time, his face looks different. Before, the judge looked burden by the sentence, but now it almost looks like he is smiling, at least on the inside. A slight grin is seen in his lips as he asks the defense to stand.
Quickly you glance up at the man who was once unknown to you, only to see him already looking at you. From the look in his eyes, you see that he knows that you’ve figured out who he is. A smile comes across his face. He knows you. Slowly, you finish standing up, still glaring at the man beside you. Before this moment, the robe was your focus, but now, your eyes are opened and you see the man for who he truly is.
The judge speaks, “This was not an easy decision to make, but the evidence is clear. A sentence is intended to be the consequence for the crime. The sentence will be…”
As he speaks he looks at the prosecuting attorney who is still sitting in his chair; still looking like an upset child. The prosecuting attorney nods his head in agreement, but never looks at the judge. Something is not right. When he spoke of the evidence, there was a smile on his face. He knew he has the case sealed. However, after the discussion with the unknown man, things were different. The smile has been replaced with a grimace. Who was this unknown man and what did he say?
The judge asks everyone to be seated and you begin to weep. The sentence is final and now a series of events will unfold in your life as it draws to an end. If anyone were there supporting you, they would have been in tears. But no one is there—no one but this man with a familiar face.
While you are grasping with the thought of the end of your life, the man beside you places his hand on your shoulder as he stands. Without looking at the man’s face, you turn your head to see his hand. You can feel the roughness in his hand through your shirt; this hand was worn and battered. As the man stood, the sleeve of his robe rose and exposed the rest of his hand and wrist. Through teary eyes you see a scar. At first, it looks as normal as any scar but then you remember…
“…and with his wounds we are healed.”
“It couldn’t be! There is no way!” You question yourself at every thought. “How could this be him? How? I don’t…”
Just as you are trying to grasp your thoughts of the man whose hand is on your shoulder, you hear his words. “Father, forgive him. Let me, just me take the punishment for his crimes. He is but a troubled soul in need of compassion and care. He is a sheep who has lost his way. Let me take his place.”
The prosecutor, upon hearing the man’s plea, exhales a deep breath, just like a child who has lost his favorite toy. He has been defeated by this once unknown man, who came in, gave his plea and now has accepted your sentence.
Who has accepted your case?
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2.1-2; ESV)
Advocate – One “who takes up the cause of another” (ESV Study Bible Notes)
Propitiation – “A sacrifice that bears God’s wrath and turns it into favor” (ESV Study Bible Notes)
Just some thoughts,