I’m sitting in a courtroom at a table near the judge’s bench.
Someone says ‘All rise’ and everyone stands. Suddenly there is lightning and thunder, smoke and fire as the Judge enters the room. The Judge is the most terrifying, frightening, glorious being you have ever seen. Winged beings fly around him, covering their faces while crying, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Everyone in the court room falls to the floor in abject fear. Then the Judge sits down, slams his gavel on his desk, and says, “Let the proceedings begin.”
Now the prosecutor stands. My blood runs cold as I see that the prosecutor is none other than the ancient Serpent himself. He is trembling and I see the fear in the yellow slits of his eyes as he nervously inches forward toward the Judge’s bench and summons up the courage to speak.
“Your Honor, you are the righteoussss Judge,” he hisses. “All justice is in your hands. And I – I demand justice this morning. You see, the defendant” – and he turns slowly and looks right at…ME, with his terrible eyes. And he slowly points a long, gnarled finger at me – “The defendant is guilty of breaking your holy law and has violated divine justice. He has rebelled against you, ignored you and spit in your face. He has failed to thank you for all your blessings, and he has worshipped false gods. These crimes must be punished! Give the defendant to me – let me take him where he deserves to go.”
There is silence in courtroom. Every eye is on the Judge. And my heart is sinking because every accusation of the prosecutor is true.
Suddenly the silence is broken and I hear someone say loudly, “I OBJECT Your Honor!” Every eye turns to see the defense attorney standing beside me. How had I not seen him before?
“I have paid for the defendant’s crimes – every one. Remember, I took his place and his punishment and satisfied your justice on the cross.”
“Objection sustained!” says the Judge.
“But Your Honor,” snarls the prosecutor, “Even last week the defendant had over a hundred ssssselfish thoughts in his mind. The defendant doubted your goodness and hated someone in his heart. You said that’s the same as murder. He must be punished!”
“Objection Your Honor! Again, I paid for those sins as well.”
“But Your Honor…” I think I detect a note of desperation in the prosecutor’s voice. “Not only has the defendant committed willful crimes, but he has failed to love you with all his heart, soul, mind and strength from the day he was born. That’s the great commandment. And he fails to love his neighbor as himself, the second greatest commandment, every day.”
“Objection! Your Honor I not only paid for all the sins he actively committed, but I paid for all he failed to do as well. I paid for all his failures with his children. All the times he’s failed to love his wife. I paid for every failure. And you have decreed that once sin is paid for it does not need to be paid for a second time.”
“Objection sustained!” Shouts the judge slamming his gavel down on his desk.
“But Your Honor…”
“Sit down Mr. Prosecutor. I’ve heard quite enough from you. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I declare this man to be not guilty in my sight. And I declare him to be righteous in Christ. Court dismissed!”
“But Your Honor…”
“Michael! Please escort the prosecutor out of the court room.”