For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 KJV
You know, it really is true love that Jesus died for us while we were sinners. As I watch the news, and remember the protests of the previous years, the verse above is a stark reminder that for the vast majority, justice is sought for “evildoers”. Rarely, does anyone seek a pardon or even mercy for someone deemed to have committed a crime, much less a heinous crime.
As I have mentioned before, I work in the juvenile justice system. The specific program I work in is an intensive rehabilitation program for girls. Our facility has three different programs, the intensive rehabilitation, group home, and detention – which houses youth, both male and female, from across the state who have committed crimes. Some have been adjudicated, some are awaiting adjudication, some are awaiting final placement in adult facilities once they are of age. There’s a wide variety of charges/crimes for which the youth are accused/adjudicated.
Along with the nature of the crimes comes different attitudes towards these young people, really towards anyone who has committed a crime. In a time of self-reflection, I have asked myself, how I felt regarding those who have committed crimes. Honestly, they are people, they are not their crimes. Still, would I want to take their place? No… But Jesus did. Willingly. We read in the gospels how the multitude requested Barrabas in place of Jesus when Pilate offered to free one of prisoners per Jewish custom during the passover, and they, in unison, called for Barrabas. He was a malefactor, better known today as a felon. And though Pilate found no fault, or wrong, in Jesus, he acquiesced to the cry of the people.
Jesus took the place of not only Barrabas, but all of us. He bore all of our sins as He suffered and died in our place.
Working with individuals who have been convicted of crimes has really opened my eyes to the depth of God’s love. Not only that, but also the love we are to have, one for another. Love, like grace, is neither earned nor deserved. It is a free gift.
Today, and each day moving forward, I want to love like that..
*Original Image by Kaybee05