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It was December 24 in Southern California. A judge in his robes sat on the bench that morning in a crowded courtroom. The first case came before him. He pronounced judgment — a fine and a jail sentence — and then said, “I am in the spirit of this season and so I’m going to suspend it all. That’s it! Next case.” And he went through all the cases that morning the same way.
The word soon spread to the telephones. Attorneys called up friends who had cases coming up soon, and they rushed to have those cases put on the docket. At two o’clock that judge saw that he couldn’t possibly get done that day. He just forgave them all, because he was “in the spirit of the season.”
He said to the clerk, “Mark all of those that are here … and I will now pronounce judgment for all of them.” The same thing: “Forgiven — suspended.” But he wasn’t just! It was no justice at all!
On the same day, the same morning, a judge was on the bench in Tucson, Arizona. He was doing justice, honoring the law, and in the middle of the morning he called the case of a man who had been in court thirty days before, a man who had received an extension of thirty days to raise the money for his fine. The man didn’t answer. The judge said, “I’ll set it aside till the end of the court.”
Later in the day that man came in. He was an immigrant, an old man, and he walked right up to the bench. He was embracing an old, dirty, white plastic milk bottle. The judge, remembering the last time he was there, immediately called for the interpreter.
Through the interpreter the man said to the judge that he was sorry for being late and he asked for forgiveness. Then he said, “Judge, I know you gave me thirty days to raise the money to pay this fine, and I walked all last night to get here. I’m sorry I’m late.” Finally with shaking hands he took the plastic milk container and set it down before them. “Judge, this is all I could raise from all my friends and from everything I could sell, and I don’t think it’s enough.”
The judge said to the clerk and the bailiff, “Count it quickly,” and they dumped all those coins out and counted them while the judge waited. The fine was $300.00, and the money they counted out totaled approximately $240.00. It was not enough.
Told what it was, the old man said, “Judge, please, just a little time, and I’ll be back with all the rest.”
That judge had tears in his eyes. He told the people in the courtroom, “I haven’t seen anything like this in all the time I’ve been on the bench. This man walked all the way, all night, and brought what he could. Now he’s begging for time to pay the rest!”
Then the judge said, “Because of your spirit, because of the way you repented and are sorry, I’m going to suspend the rest of the sentence. You go free!”
We feel better about that, don’t we? But still it wasn’t justice! The judge overlooked the judgment and the penalty that should have been paid.
But God is JUST when He justifies a sinner, because He doesn’t overlook one sin. Not one.
Christ on the cross in those three hours of darkness bore the penalty for all my sins — He didn’t overlook one.
Isn’t it wonderful to be free from judgment, the load gone, at peace with God and on your way to heaven? That is what is offered you through the gospel.
“Being JUSTIFIED by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
“God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now JUSTIFIED by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:8-9).