Several weeks ago, I served on a jury for the first time. It was a personal damages case involving a man that had suffered severe permanent injuries in a traffic accident. The experience enlightened me on how our judicial system metes out justice.
As we listened to arguments from attorneys for both plaintiff and defendant, as well as witness testimony, the judge frequently reminded us that our judgment had to be based solely on the facts, evidence and testimonies presented, not hearsay, speculation or “gut feelings.”
There were times during the two-day proceeding when I wondered why certain information was not submitted, but could not factor that into my or the jury’s collective verdict. We could evaluate testimony according to the credibility of a particular witness, but couldn’t make decisions based on anything other than what was presented in court.
There were times during witness questioning or cross-examination when statements were overruled and we as the jury were instructed to disregard that information – just like on TV. The bottom line was, we could not deliberate based on “I think” or “I feel” or other possible factors that weren’t part of the official record. It was interesting to be not just an observer but an active participant in this process.
It got me thinking about the day the Bible says we each will face judgment. Hebrews 9:27 states, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” We are also told, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Sounds ominous.
The difference is we will not be judged by a jury of our peers. God alone will serve as Judge, because only He is qualified to do so. How could any of us serve on a heavenly jury when we each would be as guilty as the defendant facing judgment? As Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In other words, there are no exceptions.
But the news isn’t all bad. The Bible says everyone that chooses to follow Christ need not fear God’s wrath and punishment. That’s already been taken care of. As the apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” To state it another way, as a friend of mine expressed it, Jesus took the rap for us. He’s already served our sentence, paid our penalty.
And to put a stamp of emphasis on this reality, Romans 5:8 declares, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”