"You're Excused!"

“You have been summoned.” Many of us would feel a little unsettled to receive such a notice! That’s what Monique felt recently when she received her juror questionnaire. She wondered immediately, “How did they get my name?” Without doing my homework, I quickly answered, “From your voter registration.” That would end up being a partial answer. In Illinois, potential jurors are randomly selected from a master list of those holding a voter registration card, a driver’s license, or an ID card. When jurors have been qualified by the jury commissioners, then they are randomly selected to receive a juror summons.

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Monique did everything she could to explain her situation on the initial questionnaire she received. She mentioned that she is a regular (and to listen to her principal, an indispensable!) substitute teacher, unfamiliar with the Sangamon Court House complex, and that she gets a little anxious in new settings. Evidently, the jury commissioners summarily dismissed each of her excuses! She received her official summons within a week or so.

Our prospective juror began to ask questions of everyone she knew that had ever served on a jury. They often sounded like interrogation, and I thought, this just about qualifies her! Primarily, she asked, “What will the lawyers or judge ask me during voir dire?” I added that French phrase (“speak the truth”) to impress her and for legitimacy purposes. I had heard that term many times when watching Jason Bull, played by actor Michael Weatherly, conduct his jury selection on that television program!

I served in a jury trial several years ago in Houston involving an incident of armed burglary. The conviction that resulted along with the fact that I have spent my vocational career as a pastor have been two sufficient reasons to keep me off any juries since that time. But I kept explaining to Monique that she would be a likely candidate because of her listening skills, sense of fairness, and willingness to look at all sides of an issue before making a judgment. Over the years, our children have been the beneficiaries of her patience and generosity!

Monique’s anxiety had been building day by day leading up to that Friday before the Monday of report week. She was instructed to call and listen to the recorded message after 5:00 pm. With phone in hand, she entered the number and was both stunned and relieved to hear, “You’re excused! Thank you for your service!” She gleefully exclaimed, “I don’t have to go for jury duty!” The voice recorded message happened so quickly that she hung up to call back. The message was just as clear the second time, “You’re excused!” A big smile and a sigh of relief followed! She felt like she’d been set free!

For years, I have heard students of theology use a court room setting to help explain what Jesus has accomplished on Calvary’s cross for our sin. It may not be a perfect analogy, but it does help to visualize how our God of great grace exonerates and sets the convicted sinner free through Jesus Christ. No one could ever deserve such a gift! Christ gives “His life in exchange for our salvation.” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).

One day Jesus said this to a woman caught in her sin, “Where are your accusers? Is there no one here to condemn you? Then I don’t condemn you either. Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.” (John 8:10-11, TPT).

In the tradition of gospel hymnody, we sing, “Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.” A contemporary version has added this repeated phrase for emphasis, “Oh, praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!”

There is nothing quite so freeing, uplifting, and hopeful than for our Savior and Lord to say, “You’re forgiven! You’re excused!”

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com




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