Judge holding gavel in courtroom

Pardoned Inmate Is Overwhelmed as am I

Pardoned Inmate Is Overwhelmed as am I
I want to be clear – this story isn’t about Jason Hernandez. I mean, it’s about Jason… tangentially. But ultimately, it’s about me. Ultimately, it’s about you. But first, let’s tell Jason’s story. Jason found himself in jail… no, there is an easier way. Watch this…

Right? Ok, so you are now up to speed. Which is great. And I love the story here. The story about the United States and our imprisoned percentages are just crazy high. And the story about how we really shouldn’t have moved to mandatory sentencing, and how people that just did stupid stuff are now in prison for hundreds of years. Which is dome. But that isn’t what my point here is right now. (But if that is your point, feel free to watch this video, which goes WAY down that particular rabbit hole.)

My point right now, is this – did you hear Jason reading the pardon proclamation from Obama at the 3:38 mark? Watch that part again. That. That’s what I’m talking about right here. That isn’t Jason. That’s you. That’s me. That isn’t a prisoner, stuck in jail for a stupid small offense and being released. It’s you and me after we realized the debt of sin we have created for ourselves and the impossibly long sentence we’ve been given… a sentence of death really. And then to hear that the President, of all people, has released us from that debt? It’s a beautiful picture of what God’s grace can be like in your life today. It’s a beautiful picture of what grace is like in my life today.

I’ll be frank. I’m an idiot. I mess up all the time. Even just now. And again. Whoops! Hahah. Take religion off the table. Take gods, and demigods, off the table. I am not a good person. Are you? And to have someone walk up to me and hand me a pardon, a non-metaphorical get out of jail free card, would be amazing. I know that I desperately need one. That’s for sure. Don’t you? Or, when you are all alone, do you not feel the weight of that as you stare into the weight of the universe? I sure as heck do. Maybe I’m the random exception?

But between you and me, this experience of Jason, that we see here in this video – is my experience. I am a messed up person that is perpetually in need of reconciliation, forgiveness, restoration. And for me, I buy not what the Christian Church is selling, but what Jesus is selling. I don’t track with Corporate Christianity… but rather with the words of Jesus. What he says… not what someone says He says.

And what He said, what He did… the life He lived… that reminds me of this video that Jason experienced here. But multiplied by a factorial. Jason just got busted for a bit of drugs. I, on the other hand, am guilty of so much more. And the fact that I’ve received complete clemency for everything by His life and death is beyond baffling. If you gave me an official sheet of paper with Christ’s signature on it, I wouldn’t be able to read it either. It’s like me trying to read this from Romans 3…

“What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
“Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

But maybe I live my life feeling more guilty than most? Or do you feel similarly overwhelmed by the infinite debt I have accrued against the world, more importantly, against God. Maybe you live your life feeling light as a feather? But for me, this Romans passage hits home. I totally get this line, “there is no one who does good,
not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit…”

And so to hear how this passage closes out blows my mind. “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.” Done. Blam. If you don’t understand the whole of the Bible… its right there. I am a bottomless pit, and God gave Christ as a sacrifice on my behalf… in spite of my sin, to be accepted through faith… not by works… just by believing it is true. Done.

Blows my mind. Just like it blew Jason’s mind to be pardoned by Obama. It was a lottery crap shoot. And yet, he hit it! He won the gambit. Which is how I feel about the grace I’ve been given through Christ’s death and resurrection. I won the lottery ticket. If you’d like to know more about how you can also win this particular lottery, I’d be happy to go in more detail with you. But for now, I am just identifying with how Jason feels here. Overwhelmingly thankful for God’s amazing goodness and grace.