Since the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, headlines of his apparent escape from justice flood the news. Though galling to a secular readership which underestimates ultimate justice, Christians are not put off by such stories. They discount them.
After harming dozens if not hundreds of young women, the notorious sexual predator basically self-executed, depriving those he so terribly persecuted of the satisfaction they rightly sought in seeing him pay. Epstein cheated the hangman, they think, because he found a way to avoid his just desserts.
But he didn’t.
They feel this way because they misunderstand the law of the universe which was laid down by its Creator and put on full display in the Scriptures, beginning as early as the third chapter in Genesis, and continuing throughout the next 1,186 chapters of the Bible.
Many believe the guilty merely cease to exist when they pass from this earth. Others that they “go to a better place”. Neither is true. In all cases, in all countries, at every time & place, lawbreakers are punished. Ultimate justice is inexorable and unavoidable. Two things are certain: 1) all guilt will be atoned for, and 2) we humans are all guilty.
In Our Place:
Fortunately for us, the Judge who sets the sentence is both merciful and loving. In His mercy, he offers a choice. The offender can choose to pay the penalty himself, or he can accept the vicarious atonement of the One who suffered on his behalf. Epstein willingly chose the former.
Others have chosen the second option. They have an Advocate who is worthy to approach the bench on their behalf and plead for mercy. True, their Advocate would Himself pay the debt which they owed, but it is an arrangement that the Judge is willing to accept.
Jeffrey Epstein is no doubt guilty of crimes, horrendous ones. But so are we, perhaps not of the same severity, but guilty never-the-less. We all have sinned against the law of God. We have committed our own brand of sexual sin, or pride, or selfishness, or have broken any number of the Ten Commandments.
Ironically, those crying the loudest about Epstein’s outwitting of the justice system deny the existence of God because He is too harsh a judge. “I can’t believe in a God who sends people to hell,” they claim. Yet they would eagerly banish Epstein to that very place if they could. The accusers demand justice for the sins of others but balk at justice for their own offenses, revealing that they are not after justice, but revenge.
In a way, Jeffrey Epstein did cheat the hangman. He tied the noose around his own neck. He cheated his victims by avoiding twenty or thirty years of prison. But he did not cheat justice. By refusing the offer of the substitutionary atonement which would have saved him, he received a much longer sentence: eternity without parole.
Until the very moment of death, Jesus stood at the door of Epstein’s cell knocking, “Hear My voice and open the door, and I will come in and dine with you, and you with Me.” For Epstein, it is now too late. For others, the offer stands. Unknown to themselves, their jail cell is locked from the inside. All they need do is plead guilty, ask for forgiveness, and await the sound of eternal freedom echo through the halls of Heaven. “Your sins are forgiven you. Pick up your matt and walk.”
Ben LaCorte is the founder of Reasons2Believe.org