If something crazy can happen, it will happen to me. Let me share an example of that with you. I was pastor of a church in Florida for eleven years. During that time one of my church members was waiting for a much needed liver transplant. Finally, a liver became available and I traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville Florida to offer support. God was good to us; the liver transplant was a success. I traveled to my wife’s parent’s home in Jacksonville Beach to get some much needed rest. This is where the story gets interesting.
I awoke early the next morning, before daybreak. As I approached my car I realized something wasn’t right. A broken pool stick was lying on the ground beside my car and my windshield was completely smashed. My father-in-law was now outside with me and he called the police. I expected when the policeman arrived a simple report would be made and I would be on my way. I was wrong.
The officer began asking me questions. It was pretty clear he assumed I had upset someone. The exchange went something like this:
“Where were you last night?” “I was at the hospital and then I came here to sleep.”
“Did you go to any bars last night?” “No sir I was at the hospital and I came here.”
“Did you get in any arguments with anyone last night?” I was getting aggravated by this time. “No sir, I am a pastor visiting a church member in the hospital.”
The officer asked for my license, took them to his car and sat for a few minutes. When he returned what he said blew me away. He said “Sir we have a warrant for your arrest.” I had only been married a few years so I’m sure my father in law was thinking “I knew it, I tried to warn everybody about him!” I was completely confused. The officer went on to explain that I had warrants for my arrest out of Georgia for writing bad checks to a liquor store. On top of that I had been recently released from prison for involuntary manslaughter. He told me that the Sheriff’s office in Georgia did not want to come and get me but they expected me to turn myself in immediately.
I did my best to explain to the officer that I was a good person and none of that about me was true. He wasn’t convinced and I’m not sure my father in law was either. I understood why. In fact the county I was wanted out of was fourteen miles from where I grew up and was the hometown of my mother. I spent a lot of time in that county. After returning home I contacted the Sheriff’s department in Georgia.here’s what happened. Little did I know, I share the same first & last name, eye color and hair color with a pretty bad dude. His charges and crimes were somehow imputed to me. I don’t know exactly how that happened but the sheriff’s office told me it was a mistake on the computer. To say the least I was relieved and perturbed. I was not prepared to go to jail for something someone else did.
As awful as this situation was it makes for a great illustration. As I was studying the arrest of Jesus I was struck by His words “So if you seek me, let these men go” (John 18:8). Jesus was arrested so that the truly guilty people could go free. He willingly took the sentence for our crimes upon Himself. The prison door was opened to release us and receive Him. Our crimes were imputed to Christ and He didn’t try and argue His way out of it. Peter should have been arrested for attempted murder in John 18. Jesus said “Let him go.” Peter was free, Christ was arrested. You and I have our share of crimes against God and man. We are guilty. But Christ assumed the debt for us. Because of our faith in Him, Christ says to death and hell “Let them go.” Thank God for that! What a Savior!