For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. (Ps. 25:11)

DID YOU KNOW that English law once considered 220 different crimes to be punishable by death? As alarming as that sounds, there were comparatively few executions. You see, the law reserved the royal prerogative of mercy for the king, who often reduced charges, commuted sentences, or granted complete pardons, showing benevolence toward his people.

A pardon acknowledged the guilt of the accused but forgave the crime and eliminated the penalty. For an accused person to have any hope of pardon, he or she had to enter a guilty plea and throw him- or herself upon the mercy of the king. Even if the king did grant a pardon, the judges could not recognize it unless the condemned person presented the pardon to the court. Only then could the court apply the pardon, satisfy the law, and spare the person’s life.

As sinners before a righteous God, we all find ourselves in that same predicament. By our sinfulness, we have forfeited eternal life, and that carries but one penalty. Jesus died on the cross in our place to offer a full pardon to us. Yet to accept it, we must humble ourselves, confess our sin, declare our guilt, and throw ourselves upon God’s mercy. Only by pleading the blood of Jesus before heaven’s Judge may we be forgiven for sin and the pardon applied.

Repent of any sin and accept Jesus’ sacrifice as pardon.

Neil Bowers lives in San Diego, California, with his wife and children. He is a state correctional officer and enjoys children’s ministry, poetry writing, and wood carving.