Today, Good Friday, the day we commemorate the death of Christ on the cross, our pastor shared the story of George Wilson. He was charged with “robbing the mail and putting the life of the carrier in jeopardy.” (United States v. Wilson, 7 pet. 150 1833) And was sentenced to hang. But fortunately for George there was a saving grace. The U.S. President pardoned him.
Strangely though, George Wilson refused the pardon. Chief Justice John Marshall had to decide the case and found:
“A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him.” (United States v. Wilson, 7 pet. 150 1833)
George Wilson, against the President’s will, was hanged.
You, and I, and every other living person on the planet find ourselves in the same position as George Wilson. God’s standard is perfection. If you have any doubt of that just read Christ’s teaching from the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew Ch 5) With that unattainable standard in place, every one of us falls short, every one of us is found guilty.
But, fortunately, like the case of George Wilson, there’s a saving grace. Yes you and I are guilty, yes you and I are sentenced to hell for it, but, God has pardoned us. He’s provided the sacrifice of His Son in your place, and in my place, and in the place of every person on earth, to provide for us a pardon from our guilt.
You have only to accept it.
You can go to hell, God says. But if you do, you’ll have to do it over My dead body — over the dead body of Jesus Christ.
Rejecting His sacrifice on your behalf is like Wilson’s rejection of the President’s pardon.
There’s just no reason to hang back.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.