Being acquitted of a crime would normally be a cause for celebration. But not so for one inmate who was acquitted of all the charges laid against him in 2013 at the Owerri High Court in Nigeria. Instead of embracing his new freedom he looked downhearted and begged to be returned to prison. In the end it took the efforts of six prison officials, court workers and policemen to get him off the premises. Despite its deprivations it seemed that for him a life behind bars was more comfortable than a life of freedom. It was what he had grown used to.
In a similar way many of us live our lives imprisoned by the regrets and failures of the past. Even when we seek and receive forgiveness the shame often remains and rather than moving on, we return to it time and time again. It’s what we’ve grown used to and imprisonment is what we feel we deserve.
This is why the death of Jesus on the cross is so glorious and liberating – his death, in our place for our sins, so that we might be set free. As St Paul so beautifully puts it in his letter to Rome, ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!’