Harsh right? Why would anyone want to do this? It does happen.
Imagine what it would look like.
Death row sentence
You know you’re guilty, though you fought it. You don’t want anyone to view you in light of your guilt, but there it sits like the pink lawn flamingo in the Pasadena suburb. You argue and rail at those who’ve accused you, in spite of your self-acknowledged guilt. The sentence passes and you walk through the doors of the jail knowing you will not leave on your own two feet.
You have to survive and want to enjoy the moments you have. You pick your place in society or its chosen for you. Still, you must follow rules. You must do everything you’re told or suffer instant consequences. You attempt to forget the reason for your new housing status.
You tell yourself, it’s free room and board. You decide orange is your color, and you’ve always wanted to wear flip-flops, every day. You seek a sense of happiness in spite of the space. You are king of your cubicle.
But you know death is near. You hear it, see it, smell it and taste it. In the back of your brain sits the knowledge that you lack control. Fear finds a home in your heart, whether you let anyone in on the secret or not.
But what would you do if you knew pardon was an option? A real option.
Would you want the pardon option?
You’d do whatever it took to secure that pardon, wouldn’t you. You’d make calls, dream dreams, write letters, you’d probably put on an orange polka-dotted tutu and dance the Macarena in front of all the other prisoners, if you knew you could leave this dream abode.
What if you weren’t told about the pardon possibility? Others knew, but didn’t tell you because you were so cool and kingly. They refused to offer you the option because they feared you’d become angry at the offer. Really. People do that.
This is real
What if what I’m writing isn’t just an exercise in imagination? What if this was your life or the life of someone you know?
You’re wondering how that’s possible, right? You never visited Folsom Prison, let alone death row.
Those of us who know Jesus live in the daily knowledge of His forgiveness and love. We have received the pardon. I’ve received it. Hopefully, you have too.
Our death sentence became a life sentence because Jesus offered to take the electrocution Himself. Think pictorially, I know He’d died on a cross, but that doesn’t happen much today and I thought I’d offer a more recent image.
Jesus said, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b)
I see you shaking your head saying, it isn’t the same as death row. Let me explain.
Sinful life= Death row
If you were unaware, the word “sin” means “to miss the mark”. Think of Robin Hood with the arrow in that famous contest. The arrow has to hit bulls-eye to land “on the mark”. God hits the mark every time, He is sinless and perfect.
No matter how far from center we land, if we miss the mark, we sin. Let’s face it, we all miss the bulls-eye of life. I miss it so often, it’s as if I’m shooting in the air and landing a mile away in some strangers car tire. Sorry.
What happens to all of us who miss that center sweet spot?
The Bible puts it this way (not my words, the Bible):
“The wages of sin is death…”
That’s where the death row image comes into play. The pay we receive for continually missing God’s mark is life on death row. But He doesn’t leave us there to wallow in our issues. The same verse finishes this way:
“….but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
The pardon is available and it isn’t just for us. The pardon is a gift. Imagine, it’s sitting at the prison’s front gate. You’ve been sent a note and the guards permit you to go and get this gift. When you open it in all it’s beauty, you can leave and live the life God has for you. Would you go?
I would and I did.
Once free, it’s your responsibility to place that gift at the gate again and offer it to as many prisoners as you can, so that they too can secure freedom. It’s easily the best gift they’ll ever receive, and you get the privilege of giving it. Will you?
Are you currently the prisoner or the pardoned one? What are you doing to secure your freedom or offer it to others?