August 15, 2018
Beyond Any Reasonable Doubt
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened. – Revelation 20:12
Having evidently made a favorable impression on the judge, the deputy district attorney, and the defense lawyer, I was now a member of a criminal jury along with eleven other local citizens.
The charge: a young father, apparently innocently pushing his little baby through the grocery store in her stroller, was actually taking articles off the shelves and hiding them in the stroller—and it was all recorded by the surveillance cameras. One of the security guards grabbed the man’s arm as he was heading out the front door, escorted him back to the security office, and called the police. Was this an open and shut case of shoplifting? So it would appear.
“Not so fast,” the defense attorney told us. Her client had actually told his wife, who was shopping in another store, that he would meet her by the exit of the grocery store. He was not planning to leave with the goods, but was just looking outside to see if she was waiting on a bench.
We jurors were almost sure that the man was guilty as charged. Had the security guard waited to apprehend the defendant until he was well past the entrance and away from the store, we would have been convinced. But the guard said he was too old to do any running. Because the man was still in the doorway, it was possible that he actually was looking for his wife. Was he probably guilty? Yes. Was he guilty beyond any reasonable doubt? No. So we found him innocent.
It may be that a guilty man was released that day. The Bible tells us that there will be a great day of judgment, when those who have not asked God for forgiveness will be judged according to the books He has been keeping. And He knows the real truth! However, there is no need for any to be found guilty on that great day; Jesus provided a way to have our sins erased from the record.
No matter how hopeless you may feel as you read this account, know that Jesus died to give you hope. The Bible says that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). He paid the price of our freedom with His life, so that we can know, beyond any doubt, that we are ready.