Friday, March 25, 2016

Most famous wrongly accused man in history


Today is Good Friday, the day Christians around the world observe what they believe to be the central fact of history: that God's son, sent to live among us, willingly offered himself as a sacrifice for the transgressions of all mankind. In order to vicariously atone for mankind's sins, Christ allowed himself to be subjected to trumped-up charges, a wrongful conviction, and an unjust death penalty. He was brought before the Roman Prefect, Pontius Pilate, who promptly declared him innocent. But to appease the angry mob, Pilate ordered Christ to be flogged. When that wasn't enough for them, Pilate allowed Christ to be crucified.

Jesus is the most famous wrongly accused and wrongly convicted person in history, and his death holds lessons for modern men and women.

The sacrifice of innocents to answer a public outcry, fomented by persons with a political agenda, is a phenomenon likely as old as civilization, and it still happens today. Prof. Mark A Godsey of the Innocence Project said that "the risk of wrongful conviction is the highest when there’s public outcry. Most of the exonerations and wrongful convictions have occurred in rape cases."

It is well to remember that with Jesus, the mob used the state to carry out its vile deed on Good Friday. God allowed his son to be tried, convicted, and executed by the state in order to make a critical point. Being subjected to a vile deed by individuals acting on their own would not have manifested the community's rejection of the Messiah. The Divine Plan recognized that, all other things being equal, misconduct by the state in punishing an innocent is qualitatively different from, and more significant than, misconduct by miscreants acting on their own. That, of course, is one of the bases for celebrated English jurist William Blackstone's assertion that it is better that ten guilty men escape punishment than that one innocent suffer at the hands of the state.

Just as Christians believe that all of us ultimately bear responsibility for Christ's death, all of us, figuratively speaking, have blood on our hands for the mistreatment of the modern day wrongly accused. We are the mob shouting "Crucify him!" and leading an innocent man to Golgotha.