After three years of courtroom drama the Casey Anthony trial is over. The verdict sent shock waves across a nation that had been glued to the proceedings. Not guilty on all accounts for murder. I assume no one reading this column is uninformed regarding the essential elements of the case and its outcome. People are still talking about it. Television viewership spiked when the jury gave its verdict. HLN drew its largest audience in its 29-year history. Audiences for other news channels doubled. This morning NBC devoted live coverage to the sentencing. The emotions of this trial touched a nerve.
I suppose part of it was due to the innocent images of two-year-old Caylee Anthony that flashed across our screens and the horrendous death she somehow suffered. Parents remained mystified by her mother’s failure to report her missing child for thirty-one days and the fabricated stories she told to police.
Few questions, it seems, were answered by the agonizing trial. The largest question of all remains unanswered in the minds of many: was justice done? According to our American judicial system we would have to say “yes.” Casey Anthony was tried by a jury of her peers who failed to find evidence beyond a “reasonable doubt” to convict her of murder. Regarding what really happened, we don’t know. No one knows.
Our judicial system is not perfect. At times it fails to convict the guilty. At others it wrongly convicts and punishes the innocent. Nonetheless, it is the best judicial system we have been able to devise for a just society.
Ultimately, of course, we will all appear before the court that never makes a mistake. Jesus spoke of this court when he said, “I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”
We will all face a verdict on that day. And, for each of us, the verdict will be “guilty.” What we already know to be true will be made abundantly clear. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. When Peter met Jesus he cried out, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” The Apostle Paul confessed, “I am chief of sinners.” Our own sin is just as heart-rending in the eyes of God as the tragic death of this two-year old child may be to ours.
Our personal sin and guilt created a great dilemma for God. He loves us and doesn’t want to punish us. But He is just and must punish the guilty. That of course, is the reason Jesus had to suffer the cross. A penalty must be paid for our guilt and God chose to let His Son pay that penalty for those who receive him as Savior and Lord. This is the mystery of John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His sonly begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”