"A Verdict Overturned"
January 8, 2015
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the Righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. 1 Peter 3:18
Huugjilt was innocent.
That fact is of little comfort to him. You see, Huugjilt was put to death for the crime of rape and murder some 18 years ago. Now it's true, at his trial the state had produced his confession. But it's also true another man admitted having committed the crime. It's also true Huugjilt's confession, which did not match the crime's details, was only made after the police had questioned him for 48 hours.
Huugjilt was innocent.
That fact, I am afraid, is of little comfort to his mother and father. They not only knew their boy, but they had also heard his friend testify about how they had come upon and had tried to help the woman. The only comfort the parents took from the court's reversal was to go to their boy's grave, tear up a copy of the original sentence, and say, "The wrongful conviction has been redressed."
Huugjilt is not the first innocent man who has been condemned for crimes he did not do. Turn to the Old Testament and read the story of Joseph who was sentenced to an Egyptian prison because of lies. Look at the many prophets who were persecuted because their words from the Lord were rejected by their monarchs.
Without a doubt, history's greatest miscarriage of justice was directed against Jesus Christ, God's Son, our Savior. His church had Him condemned to death on charges that changed from trial to trial. Looking at His life you can see how the Innocent was beaten for we who are guilty, how the Innocent was condemned for those who had transgressed, and how the sins of the world were laid upon the one, perfect Person this world will ever see.
The story of the Savior's life, suffering and death is a tragic one.
But there is another part to Jesus' story. While the Innocent did die for those who were guilty, there is no filled grave where we can express our sadness and outrage. No, we cannot go to Jesus' occupied tomb because -- three days after He was buried -- He rose from the dead.
But there's still more.
Now, because of what Jesus has successfully accomplished, everyone who believes on Him as Savior finds the eternal Judge has forgiven all their transgressions and declared them innocent of wrongdoing. In other words, the verdict of guilty, which should rightly have been said to us, has been set aside because of the Savior's sacrifice.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, while I am saddened that Jesus was unfairly murdered, I give thanks the death and resurrection of Your Son is the means by which You forgive me. In Jesus I give thanks. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries