I scan the pews of people that lay on both sides of the courtroom, with one grand isle way leading up to the authoritative structures at the front. The defendant's table is empty; I can see the prosecutor surrounded by a team of assistants. They are jovial and relaxed. What am I doing here? What is this about? Who is in trouble? At that very second, I look down to see my own feet bound by shackles and my immobile hands in handcuffs.
My breathing becomes labored and heavy and all of the familiar feelings of anxiety creep up. However, this time is different, I know for certain that something is wrong. I anxiously scan the pews that are now filled, leaving no elbow room between the many persons to persons. Every single row was full, the balconies were bursting with bystanders, people lined the walls. I spot a face who looks vaguely familiar; I can't place her, but I know I know her. I look at the audience and realize that they all look familiar, every single one of them. As I try to make sense of this and place these many faces, I realize they are all staring intently. Thousands of eyes focused right at me - shooting daggers of accusations right back into mine.
At that moment, two men appear and grab both my arms and drag me down the center isle and throw me in to the empty chairs and bare tables of where the Defense team normally would gather. I am alone and I am very, very afraid.
The judge is seated at the bench and the prosecution begins their attack. Their attack against ME.
Officers of the court begin to wheel in cart after cart, each full of written accounts of all recorded transgressions. ALL of them. Every single offense I had made since I was adolescent had been recorded in great detail and with indisputable evidence.
One by one each member of the vaguely familiar audience makes his or her way to the witness stand. Testimony after Testimony of all of my hidden crimes are brought to the light. Early recollections of outright defiance against my parents are given, terribly inconsiderate actions against grade school friends share the spotlight. True accounts of every bad decision - moment after moment of shared seconds of hate, forbidden love, selfish anger and violence are shared publicly. Verbatim accounts of the meanest, nastiest words I've hurled around are read in horrific replica Former lovers share explicit detail of my most regretful moments, Broken Promise after Broken Promise rip the seems of my heart, in a seemingly never ending fashion. Thousands of witnesses to my life's greatest mistakes have already spoke, but their vacant seats are instantly filled with someone new and willing to share another regretful instance of my past. Finally, after what seemed like days, the Judge is ready to make his verdict.
GUILTY, ON ALL ACCOUNTS.
He proceeds to declare that each and every offense comes with a hefty monetary fine and should I wish to live, I must pay the note in full. In an instant, my life crashes around me. Heavy sobs wrack my frame and I find it harder and harder to breathe. Suddenly, my name is called.
I look up from my pit of desperation and see a humble looking man coming towards me. Unlike the many faces I had seen earlier, his was not familiar. He extends his hand and I hesitantly offer mine in return. He delicately takes it and begins to unlock the restraints. His deeply compassionate eyes look directly in to mine and he begins to speak.
"I have paid your fine; You are free to go."
This is a true account of my life and the fight for my eternity. I have made so many mistakes, and committed so many sins. I am guilty of a multitude of transgressions, big and small. However, thousands of years ago, Jesus Christ paid my note in full, by brutally dying on a wooden Cross and then conquering death by resurrecting 3 days later. His salvation ensures my forgiveness and my eternity. His love is too fierce to adequately imagine and too constant to define. All he wants from me in return is to recognize him as the Son of God, seek forgiveness, and aspire to live a peaceful, love filled, honorable, God centered life. I am not perfect; He loves me just the same.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Best wishes for all of you on this Good Friday and for this Easter Weekend.