Lesser Burden

180px-Newspaper_drawing_of_Los_Angeles_City_Attorney_A.W._HuttonI have defended literally thousands of clients on various criminal matters. Prior to that, I represented thousands of defendants against civil claims. While the criminal standard for a conviction is more stringent than the civil standard for a finding of liability, the posture in each instance is similar. The defense does not carry any burden at all.

There is no burden. I don’t have to convince anybody of anything. The other side has to gather the necessary evidence and put together a compelling argument. I can sit back and just poke holes in it. The case that is made has to be accurate and convincing to win the disputed matter.

The party that accuses has to prove the case. They have to prove behaviors violate a law and that the violation of law deserves punishment. The defense can remain silent and wait to determine if the accusation is proven. If not, a single motion to the court with no other evidence to defend the accused can have the entire matter dismissed once and for all.

Prior to Jesus, mankind had the burden of proof. They had to keep the law to attempt to stand in the presence of a Holy God. Works, restraints and sacrificial offerings were the formula for a favorable verdict.

Jesus, however, changed it all. He shifted the burden of proof from mankind, which was separated from God by the fall of Adam, to the accuser. Jesus was the necessary sacrifice for restoration of relationship between mankind and a Holy God. Jesus paid the price for the burden to shift. Because of His sacrifice of a perfect life, God will no longer hold our imperfection against us. Grace replaced the previous burden.

While this is true and realized for every Jesus follower, why do we continually lead out with a message of accusation? We lead out with the work of an enemy that seeks to separate and condemn. When Jesus Himself says to reconcile the world to Him and His grace, we all too often remind that world of their failures compared to the law (2 Corinthians 5: 18-19).

The greater burden is on the accusing party. The burden of Jesus is easy and light. There is no reason to exchange the easier for the greater. We can rest in Him and tell others that they can, too.

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