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Today is Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish Calendar. It begins on the evening of the ninth day of Tishri (Oct 8) and lasts until the evening of the 10th (Oct 9). Yom Kippur is also known as the Day of Atonement and the Sabbath of sabbaths.
On this day, the Jewish people seek God’s forgiveness for their sins. They hope to have their names written in the Book of Life for another year. All Israel shuts down on Yom Kippur and even non-observant Jews fast and attend synagogue.
In biblical times, this was the only day that the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies. He cast lots to decide which of two unblemished goats would be sacrificed for the sins of Israel. Then the high priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrificed goat on the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies.
The high priest then laid his hands on the second goat, the scapegoat, and confessed all the sins of Israel. This goat was then released into the wilderness, symbolically carrying away Israel’s sins.
Kippur or Atonement means “covering” or “to redeem”. The blood of the sacrificed animal covered the sins of the people of Israel for another year.
To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.C. S. Lewis
When Jesus died on the cross, He became the final sacrifice. He became the atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. It is finished!
There is no need for another sacrifice. His death reconciled us to God and opened the way for us to have a relationship with Him again.
In the same way that the sacrifices on Yom Kippur wiped Israel’s sins clean for a year, Jesus wiped the slate clean for us. The difference is that it wasn’t for a single year; He forgave our sins for all eternity. He paid it all so we could gain it all.
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.Hebrews 9:11-12 ESV
So who is Amber Guyger and what does this have to do with her? If you’ve been following the news recently, you’ll have heard about her trial. She is a former Dallas Police officer who shot a man called Botham Jean after entering his apartment.
Amber was on the wrong floor and mistook the apartment for her own. Botham was an innocent man sitting in front of his television eating ice cream. Amber was sentenced to 10 years in jail, which many (including myself) thought was too lenient.
But the highlight of the trial came after the sentencing.
While addressing the court, Botham’s younger brother Brandt, told the world that he had forgiven Amber. He then asked if he could give her a hug, which the judge allowed.
This caused an uproar within the African American community. “There must have been a payoff,” they said. “He’s still so enslaved mentally that he feels the need to forgive his white oppressor, ” they said.
Many believed that by forgiving Amber, Brandt was giving similar perpetrators a pass. Kill a person of color and we’ll forgive you. We’ll give you a hug and all will be well.
I was surprised and saddened to see that those on my Facebook timeline didn’t understand what forgiveness was all about. They couldn’t see the level of freedom that forgiveness had brought to Brandt Jean.
I was especially saddened by those who confessed to being followers of Jesus. All they could see was the here and now, not God’s eternal plan.
What if there’s something much bigger going on here? Could it be that Brandt was simply living by Matthew 6: 14 – 15?
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.Matther 6: 14-15
Without understanding, this verse might seem harsh but God was saying, “I gave up my Son for you. He chose to hang on a cross and take the punishment for the sins of the entire world.
Because of His sacrifice, I forgave the entire world, including Amber Guyger, of all its sins. Who are you to hold anything against anyone
Could it be that at that moment, Brandt was seeing Amber from heaven’s point of view? A person in need of forgiveness. Brandt knew that forgiveness was already available through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He chose to forgive.
Long before Amber killed an innocent man, Jesus hung on the cross and took her punishment. More than two thousand years ago He chose to be our atoning sacrifice; to hang on a cross so that we might be forgiven.
The death of Botham Jean was horrendous and avoidable and he did nothing to deserve it. Ms. Guyger deserves to suffer the consequences of her actions.
But Brandt Jean’s act of forgiveness does not absolve her from the consequences of her actions. What it does do is open the door for her to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Who knows what could be birthed from this one act of forgiveness? Could Amber Guyger one day become an advocate against the very kind of act she committed? Who knows? We don’t but God does.
If you don’t see Jesus in the actions of Brandt Jean, then you don’t understand the Father’s unconditional love. He sent His only Son to die for us all, no matter class, creed, or color. He will always leave the ninety-nine to save the one. In this case… Amber Guyger was the “one”.