The verdict returned by the jury on July 5th, 2011 regarding charges against Casey Anthony for the murder of her young daughter, was just such a thing.
With professional composure, the court clerk announced acquittal decisions on each of the assault charges brought by the prosecution, “We, the jury, find the defendant, not guilty.”
If you live in the United States, you probably know the criminal case I’m talking about since the news channels covered the trial thoroughly. Three years ago, Casey Anthony was charged with murdering her 2 year old daughter, Caylee whose decomposed body had been found in the woods with duct tape over her mouth and nose. Casey didn’t even report her daughter missing for 31 days, avoiding family and friends in the interim.
Our nation mourned the loss of this innocent child, many of us also angered at the lack of justice that played out in the courtroom. After the emotional dust settled within my own heart however, I began to notice Casey’s response to each “not guilty” verdict that the court clerk announced. Her somber expression exhibited throughout the trial reverted to welcome tears of relief. Casey had been exonerated and released from all accusations carrying either the death penalty or long term sentences.
As I watched her embittered expression dissolved by relief, I thought about my own exoneration from sin. You see, we are all guilty of sin and every one of us carry the penalty of death for that sin. (Romans 3:23) Casey Anthony was on trial for a crime that if prosecuted to the full extent of the law, would require execution. But she was spared. Her obvious criminal neglect of little Caylee, abdicated.
In Christ, we who accept His grace are exonerated and delivered from the penalty for our sins. Do we deserve death? “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). We are all guilty because we are born into this world as sinners. Yet we can be released from the sin and guilt that condemns us through the death of the One who paid the price for our release. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
You and I have been freed from all the charges against us as sinners and declared “not guilty.” May our sorrow turn to joy and our tears be wiped away! “For in Christ, we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins” (Colossians 1:14).