The belief that justice is blind is one of the foundational beliefs of America. The statue of Lady Justice holding scales to balance the evidence while sporting a blindfold stands outside many courtrooms in our country. In many countries, once an accusation is made, it is the responsibility of the defendant to prove himself innocent. In the United States, we believe that a man is innocent until proven guilty. The problem for men like Lawyer Johnson who was convicted of murder in 1971, was the color of their skin. Johnson was convicted by an all-white jury for murdering a white man. He was retried and evidence pointed to the fact that he was not present at the scene. He was convicted again. Finally, a new witness who was found who testified that the killer was actually the state’s star witness against Mr. Johnson. His case was finally dismissed in 1982. Johnsons was convicted based in part on the strongest possible evidence that he was guilty: the color of his skin.
In the fight for equal rights the history of black people being convicted by all-white juries is overwhelming. Some, no doubt, were guilty. Many were innocent, but convicted because when it came down to the reliability of the witnesses, a black defendant had no credibility in the eyes of the jury. If a white person committed a crime against a black person, the odds were almost 100 percent that he would be acquitted. While our justice system is second to none in the world, we still have flaws of biblical proportions. “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent— the LORD detests them both.” (Proverbs 17:15)
The quality of justice is proclaimed throughout the Bible. God is a just God. He is a God of Justice. That concept permeates the Bible. The one, true God is set off against the capricious gods that many worshiped who played favorites and tormented innocent people for fun. This is not Yahweh. This is not the God of the Bible. Sure, God had a few favorites. He chose Israel as His people. David was considered a man after God’s own heart. When Israel sinned, though, God didn’t overlook their sin and the nation suffered for their sins. Finally, after years of injustice and sins against God and people, the nation was destroyed. David, even though he was a favorite child of God, sinned also. He suffered for his sins. He was granted grace and forgiveness when he repented, but he paid a high price for his sins. God loves justice.
We live in an unjust world, there is no doubt about that. Those who are rich and powerful are able to flout the law while those who have no power suffer under the law. The laws of our country are often contrary to the just laws of God. And yet, for all of God’s justice, He has provided a way to show mercy. Jesus Christ suffered the penalty for all those who were guilty in all times. His death on the cross paid the demands of God’s justice so that we can receive His mercy for the sins we are guilty of. The Bible is very clear on this issue: all people have sinned. No one is perfect. The penalty for sin is death: eternal death. But God, who is rich in mercy, accepts the death of Christ as a substitution for our penalty and offers mercy to all who turn to Him. I don’t know what the courtroom in heaven will look like, but I can imagine having the evidence weighed by an all-angel jury. They would have no problem convicting me until they realized that my defense attorney was Jesus who reminded them that He already paid the penalty for my sin. God loves justice, but His mercy triumphs for all who accept His forgiveness.
Lord, I am guilty of sin. I have failed You and continue to fail You. Thank You for mercy in Jesus Christ.