Are you a criminal? A criminal is a ‘person who has committed a crime.’ Now that’s an obvious definition, isn’t it? But what is a crime? Who decides?
As Isaac Watts penned the words for ‘Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed?’ he ‘cross-examined’ himself as to his own guilt as a criminal before God. Verse 2 of this long-standing anthem asks –
2 Was it for crimes that I have done, he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown! And love beyond degree!
As the completely restored cripple clings to Peter, and with a huge crowd crushing in, this leader levels some very serious charges against his hearers.
#1 You handed Him (Jesus) over to be killed, and
#2 You disowned Him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. (And)
#3 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. (And)
#4 You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. (Acts 3:13b-15)
With the skill of a prosecuting attorney, Peter levels four serious charges against the accused. The accused compounded their guilt by betrayal, rejection and murder.
But how about us? Ask yourself Isaac Watts’ question – ‘Was it for crimes that I have done, he groaned upon the tree?’
My answer is YES! Guilty as charged. I’m the chief of sinners and desperately need God’s grace. Don’t you?
When I read Isaiah 53, I read it this way…
‘He was wounded for MY TRANSGRESSIONS. He was bruised for MY INIQUITIES. The punishment that brought ME peace was laid upon Him and with His stripes, I am healed.’
When I read Romans 5:8, I read it this way…
“But GOD demonstrated His own love for me in this. While I was still a sinner, CHRIST DIED for ME…”
How do I plead when charged with my sin? ‘Guilty as charged.’ But I find great joy in the good news, the gospel, that Christ died for sinners.
I need no other argument. I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died and that HE died for me.