She stood to her feet, hands clammy, confessing her guilt. Ashamed.
She begged for mercy… admitting she could not pay for her crimes and outstanding debt… Without a pardon, she would be sentenced to death.
The judge sighed as he looked at the list of crimes she had committed. He looked about the courtroom, then back at the woman. “Is there anyone who will pay your debt?”
On the far side of the room sat a large audience of well-dressed onlookers, pointing and sneering. She had it coming to her. They sat, straight and tall, noses turned up, looking down at her.
“A disgrace,” one man muttered.
“Our world will be better without her,” huffed a woman, looking away, as if the very sight of the woman might contaminate her.
A few among them looked uncomfortable, squirming. But not one spoke up.
A scraggly few supporters sat near the woman, silent. Tears flowed freely. It was almost as if each believed they were guilty, and deserved her sentence. One by one they fumbled through tattered bags, purses and pockets, pulling out what bits of valuables they might hold, if any.
One produced a pack of gum that appeared to have been carried too long in her coat. Another a comb, bent and with hair hanging from it. An old man pulled out a handkerchief but, alas, one corner was crumpled together, obviously used, dirty.
An old man, stumbled through the door, and walked forward. He looked like one of the filthy scraggly few. He held in his crippled hands a worn piece of paper.
“You intend to pay this woman’s debt with that… that… whatever it is you hold there?”
The old man smiled, exposing decayed teeth—the few he had—and raised bushy grey eyebrows. “No, shir, Your Honour” he said, mispronouncing ‘sir’. “I haven’t a penny to offer, shir, but I know Shomeone…
The well-dressed onlookers scoffed. One woman cackled, “He knows ‘shomeone’… I sure wonder who… probably ‘shome’ drunk ‘shtreet’ bum.”
“Order!!! Order in the court!!!” shouted the judge, his gavel pounding the block. He turned his attention to the old man. “Continue sir.”
The old man told of his life of crime, and the many lives he destroyed in that process, until one day, only a few years earlier, it all caught up to him.
“Your Honour, a man paid my debt that day, and I was pardoned. All He asked in return, was for me to share the good news, and tell others about Him. He will pay her debt.”
“And, just where might I find this generous man?” the judge asked.
“He’s waiting, just outside the door,” the old man said.
He shuffled to the rear of the court, opened the door and the generous man walked in. Jaws dropped throughout the courtroom.
Before them stood no ordinary man. He was the King’s son. With kind eyes and gentle smile, He walked to the condemned woman, and took her place, accepting her judgement.
She fell at His feet, weeping, too overcome for words. She was free. In one moment, she was released; thanks, not to some ability to correct or pay for her crime, but because of this man.
She stayed there a long while, weeping.
The King’s son looked at the scraggly supporters, then at the well-dressed, arrogant crowd. “Each of you owes the same debt this woman owed.”
The scraggly few bowed their heads, nodding. Some wept. The man pulled out his stained handkerchief and blew his nose loudly. A woman sobbed shamelessly.
“Some of you are familiar with your crimes, and carry that debt with great shame,” He said, looking at the scraggly few. “Bring me any debts you owe, I will pay them.”
One by one they shuffled forward, tears flowing, praying. Reaching for mercy.
The King’s son continued, looking now at the well-dressed crowd, “Some of you are oblivious to your debt, and choose to ignore it. You justify your crimes, and believe that as long as you present well, and hide your crimes, you are justified. What’s worse… you do this claiming allegiance to my Father and His country.”
The well-dressed crowd listened stoically… Most of them…. A few shifted in their seats.
The King’s son spoke again. “You were quick to judge, but every one of you, if you take off those fine clothes, will find a layer of tattered rags. Hidden in the pockets you will find unpaid debts. If you strip back those layers and acknowledge your need, I will pay your debts too.” He paused, looked over the well-dressed crowd.
The woman who taunted earlier, squirmed. The man who scoffed, looked at his feet. Several others shifted, unable to look the King’s Son in the eye. A few tore off their outer garments, exposing filthy, stained rags. In humble acknowledgement, they joined the scraggly few.
“Yes, I will pay your debts, but only if you strip yourself of image, prestige and religious pride, and acknowledge your need, as these have.”
Matthew 7:1-5 (NKJV)
Do Not Judge
7 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Often we ‘Christians’ judge others harshly, while hiding our secret sins. We proclaim the name of God, and yet defy the way and words of Jesus–Emmanuel, ‘God with us’–as we toss rocks in arrogant self-righteousness.
In the same church where a man has an affair and his wife is ordered by leaders to keep silent and never mention it again because he is repentant…. the same church where child molesters are treated with ‘grace’–aka cover up and their crime is down-played… there repentant sinners get the left foot of fellowship for some hidden agenda.
Edmund Burke once said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”
The evidence speaks for itself. Too long, too many good men (and women) have done nothing. There have always been a faithful few, but it is time for the people of God to rise up together and stand for Jesus, and for what He taught and exemplified. He lived truth fearlessly, judged by the most religious and ‘self-righteous’ of His day, to the point that they sought to kill Him.
To be named with Him, we will need to be willing to face the same abuse and judgement from many religious folks–leaders and laity, alike–who live in pretentious holiness. If there is one place the devil has a stronghold today, it is with those who preach God, hell fire and brimstone, while defying Jesus Christ.
Until we are willing to face the wrath of the enemy and these people, by confronting this stronghold, exposing the evil–yes, even publicly–the body of Christ will remain crippled and ineffective. Jesus warned us about these false teachers and, unfortunately, they exist in every denomination. Coincidentally, the warning comes in the same chapter as the instruction on judging:
Matthew 7:15-19 (NKJV)
You Will Know Them by Their Fruits
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
For those who will take the challenge, and turn to Jesus Christ, abandoning every other thing for His sake–including leaders and churches that blatantly misrepresent God and live for personal agenda–there is grace for the difficult journey ahead. (If you find yourself ‘stuck’ in such a place, don’t be afraid to search for a life-giving fellowship. None are perfect, but many are passionate about Jesus and biblical truth, and compassionate toward people.)
It is not easy to stand up against evil in religious settings–against spiritual wickedness in high places. But it is the way of true holiness, to set ourselves apart from the world of sin, as well as the sin of religious arrogance that all but replaces the need for the Atonement of Christ.
Rise up! Stand for Truth; Unadulterated, pure, simple Truth!
© Trudy Metzger
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