The Joy of Grace (public domain image)

When we find ourselves in circumstances that are unfamiliar, the speed at which things happen seems to be quicker than when we are in comfortable situations. When I was practicing law, clients that were facing criminal charges could sometimes fail to understand what was going on in court. While the judge, lawyers, police officers, etc. were comfortable in that environment, defendants often were not. The result was routine findings by the court could be confusing to the novice.

Clients often weren’t sure if they won or lost at the point where the judge would render a decision. When we won, my practice was to turn and head out of the courtroom with them reasonably quickly and I could explain it outside. Nothing good was going to happen in the courtroom and it was best to take the win and leave without tarry to explain the details. On top of that, no need to gloat in front of the judge or opposing party; it was just bad form.

On one such occasion, we had won a criminal case and I prompted my client to follow me out of the courtroom, he was asking me along the way, “what happened?” Even as I responded that I would explain it outside, he persisted, “what happened, did we win?”

“Yes, we won,” I offered as we made our way to the other side of the bar and up the aisle towards the door out of the courtroom.

Right there in the middle of the aisle walking from the bench towards the hallway, he could barely contain himself upon my message of victory. He started to celebrate and tried to hug me, which was met with a quick, decisive correction of “no hugging.” Of course, once we got outside, I explained in more detail how and why we won.

This man had realized the feeling of favor. He knew in the moment what it felt like to be found “not guilty” even though he had, in fact, violated the law. We had won on a valid legal argument but that didn’t mean he hadn’t broken the law and he knew it. He knew the joy of walking away despite his guilt.

We can enjoy the finding of “not guilty” that Jesus paid for on our behalf. Jesus presented a valid and legal substitute for our guilt but do we realize it with the same celebration that a criminal defendant offers when he wins a case that he should have lost? When we do, our joy should be uncontainable and we should be trying to hug Jesus. He’ll hug us back.

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