Am I the only person in the United States who predicted that Casey Anthony would be found “not guilty” in the first degree murder of her child? Of the seven charges against her, she was found to be not guilty of those three that would have brought the greatest amount of jail time. In the aftermath of the surprising verdict to most, the talking head commentators of every stripe are attempting to find reasons why their predictions of guilty were so off base.
Like with the O.J. Simpson trial, which I also predicted ahead of time that he would be found not guilty, the pundits were once more shocked. I have a very simple explanation of why they react as they do. We live in an age in which emotions trump facts. But to those who examine the evidence provided by the prosecution objectively attempting as best as one is able to separate emotions from facts, there was no evidence presented at all that she was a bad mother, that she was abusive to her child or that fingerprints or DNA pointed to her being guilty of killing her child.
Let me be as clear as I can. Whether either O.J. or Casey is guilty of the charged crimes, the fact is that the prosecution simply did not meet the burden of evidence necessary for a guilty plea. Some may argue that having been sequestered, the jury was not privy to much of the conversation between the lawyers and the judge as the public was. On the other hand, being sequestered meant that they could focus on their real job as to whether the evidence presented met the burden of proof regardless of their personal feelings.
I have lost some respect for those who normally I listen to when it come to politics. They also contradicted themselves again and again. For example, after mouthing the political correct statement that the American justice system is the best in the world, they would then proceed to talk about how blind it was today. After stating that they would not want to criticize the jury, they then spoke about how the jury members did not use common sense.
Now what has all this to do with Law and Gospel? One item comes to mind. The first is that a woman who was thought to be guilty by a majority of those watching the case was found to be not guilty of the major charges of first degree murder, manslaughter and abuse. She probably will be freed this Thursday on the remaining guilty charges due to time already spent in jail awaiting trial. And this in spite of the fact that she did not take the witness stand.
How different is our court case soon to be upon us either at the moment of our death or, if we are so fortunate, Judgment Day. There we will be found guilty of many sins worthy of temporal and eternal punishment. But because we have taken the witness stand—so-to-speak—by true repentance (contrition plus faith in Jesus), we will hear the Judge Himself invite us into heaven. We enter heaven not because we are “not guilty” but because we are “guilty” yet have trusted in the blood-bought sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Savior to forgive us.
And what is forgiveness? It is the declaration of God Himself that He will no longer hold any believer in Christ accountable for his sins! Indeed, the criterion one must meet to go to hell is to be a sinner. And the criterion one must meet to go to heaven is to be a sinner. The difference? Those who go to hell are unbelievers rejecting the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those who go to heaven hold fast to that significance.
Yes, two court room scenes but very different in both their purpose and outcome. One held on earth judging a mother to be not guilty in the death of her child due to lack of evidence; the other held on Judgment Day judging every human being to be worthy of eternal punishment for our sins but freed from that result because of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.