The power to pardon

It’s not just the Thanksgiving turkey that benefits from a US Presidential pardon. Over the centuries thousands have been the grateful recipients of a pardon that has set them free from the consequences of their conviction. Most of those pardoned have shown remorse and demonstrated why they deserve such clemency. But many haven’t, and it’s those pardons that always cause the most controversy.

This is nothing new of course and even Jesus came in for heavy criticism for showing clemency towards the apparently undeserving. On more than one occasion he caused outrage by forgiving the sins of someone who was very clearly guilty. How dare he?

But that of course is the message of grace that Jesus came to bring, and grace is outrageous. Just like a Presidential pardon those who deserve to be punished are set free. But why should they be? It seems deeply offensive. Or at least it does until we realise that we all need to be on the receiving end of such clemency. We don’t need the Bible to tell us that we have all sinned – our consciences do that for us. What we do all need is to know that in Christ forgiveness and clemency are freely available.

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