Monday, February 26, 2007

When a Pardon is Not a Pardon

One of the elders in our church, Mel Mead, gave this meditation at the Lord's Table recently. He agreed to let me share it.

Micah 7:18 "Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain his anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love."

There is a danger when you put a history major in front of you to give a communion meditation, because today you get a history lesson.

Andrew Jackson was our seventh President; he served from 1829 to 1837. His nickname was "Old Hickory," because he was as tough and unbreakable as a hickory limb. He is better remembered for his exploits in the War of 1812, and in particular the Battle of New Orleans. He was a rough-hewn Tennessee farmer, and he changed, at least temporarily, the way the White House was used and viewed by the people.

In 1830, Jackson had an experience which, so far as I know, has never befallen another President. A man named George Wilson held up a coach carrying the U.S. mail, and in the process shot and killed the driver. He was tried and convicted, and sentenced to hang. For reasons we do not know, President Jackson issued a Presidential pardon for Wilson. But a strange thing happened -- Wilson refused the pardon. He was guilty, and he did not feel that he deserved a pardon.

Jackson was perplexed. He asked the Supreme Court to rule on the matter. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the Court's response: "A pardon is merely a scrap of paper unless it is accepted by the pardoned. The sentence stands."

So it is with God's pardon. It is far more enduring than a "scrap of paper," but it isn't a pardon until we accept it. We do that initially when we accept Christ as our Savior, and we accept it again each time we come to the Table, remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made for us and renewing our commitment to live as He would have us live. As with George Wilson, if we do not do so, the sentence stands. (Credit to Hugh Poland, Secret Place, October 10, 2006)

1 comment:

Shawn said...

Enjoyed reading your blog, Thanks ;)