(WNS)–Friday night was a victorious night for the American justice system. Due process was duly just as serial pedophile Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 of the 48 charges brought against him. The longtime former assistant football coach at Penn State was on trial for molesting and raping at least 10 boys over a period of many years. A jury of his peers found him guilty, a jury with three quarters of its members having ties to Penn State. Prior to the trial there were grumblings that a jury of Penn State supporters could never be objective in the trial of one their heroes. Score one more for fairness and justice.
Amos 5:24 famously says, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,” and on that night justice did roll down. It rolled to the tune of a sentence that will put Sandusky behind bars for somewhere between 60 and 440 years. Justice rolled indeed, and it was a good thing.
But even as our man-made justice system did its best work, victim No. 6 (name withheld) sat in the courtroom and sobbed, as he and seven of the other victims had done when they took the stand against Sandusky. He heard the jury foreman read out “guilty” in a strong voice 45 times, and it did not ease his pain. Forty-five “guilty” declarations or 4 million and 45 of them could not remedy the damage done to him. Even as Pennsylvania justice rolled down, peace did not.
Our justice system can hold people accountable for their actions, but it cannot bring complete recompense to the victims. No man-made system can do that. Only redemption, cleansing, and healing can do that.
But there was justice done once that did more than hold a criminal accountable, which is ironic since it didn’t hold a criminal accountable at all. Instead, justice was done on an innocent man—a sentence of death and an execution for crimes He never committed. And it was this trumped-up, fabricated trial that offers the redemption for which victim No. 6 weeps in desperation. When human justice was at its worst, God’s justice was fulfilled. When human justice failed, God’s mercy poured out on all humanity.
Our justice system should be lauded for doing its best in the case of Jerry Sandusky. It is good to see justice wash over such a criminal. But human justice heals no one. So when we think of these 10 victims, think of that great paradox of justice when mankind failed but God’s justice rolled down like waters and Jesus made a way of redemption, hope, and healing. And then pray they would find their solace in that paradox of misplaced perfect justice and mercy.