The Case of Little Glenn –
Fictional illustration of (possible) penal substitution dynamics
As we have noted, the NT used 'substitution' themes in many different ways, only one of which is strictly 'penal'.
The term 'penal substitution' has at its core the following sense and flow:
"Penal" means "punishment" (both come from an old word for 'pain'). In our context, this "punishment" is a 'legal' word (punishment for legal guilt for statute violation, before a Judge). Specifically, the Law in this case is the Mosaic Law (the 'curse of the law' terminology indicates this).
And it might be represented by the following narrative flow:
In Biblical "Penal Substitution", though, this process is interrupted at Step 7--
If at Step 7, I realize the wrongness of what I have done, the damage done to others, the effrontery to goodness/truth/beauty, the danger I have placed myself in relative to Legal Justice/Punishment, and my true "deservedness" of that punishment, I may--in an effort to correct my mistake and heal the damage--'turn myself in' (in a prayer of confession, of admission and abhorrence of guilt, appeal for mercy/rescue, etc.) to a Representative of the Divine Law.
Let me use a fictional, semi-parable, storyline to draw out the elements involved:
The Representative of the Divine Law (Jesus) hears my confession 'at the station', in the "Intake" room, takes down the details--commenting about how serious a crime it is and how severe the legitimate punishment for it is, and then moves me to a "meeting room". The room is fairly plain, with an large table and several chairs around it, a coffee machine and water cooler in the corner, a big picture window (but not one-way mirror thing I was sorta expecting, from the movie stereotypes), and an unusual, but stunningly vivid, colorful, beautiful, full-length Abstract Art Mural along one wall--complete with a set of oil paints, brushes, on a little table. Jesus leaves the meeting room, and talks with the Divine Judge out in the hall. When they both return to the room, the following dialogue begins:
"I've talked your crime over with Jesus, and we've decided not to charge you with this crime, and therefore, not to put it on your record at all. That means, of course, that you will not be indicted, sentenced, or punished in any way. However, you DO have to go back down to the Human court system and go through THEIR procedures. Down there, you will likely have to bear many consequences for your crime, but I can assure you that none of them are as severe or exacting as what you would have to endure in the Divine sphere of Law. You will also have to go out of your way to apologize and make it up to the victims (beyond the human court system), live such a life that contributes more-good-than-bad, and tell others about how you sought/found mercy in the Divine Court. And, you should manifest the same gentleness and forgiving spirit to your fellows, which you have seen here already from Jesus. Also, FYI, we have a Divine Victim Assistance team, which will be taking steps to help the victims, in our special ways too. But you are legally free to go."
Glenn (after receiving CPR from Jesus) gets up and responds:
"But I totally deserve that horrible punishment--don't you up HERE legally HAVE TO punish me for that crime????"
"Actually, we WOULD have to punish you for that crime, but ONLY IF you were convicted of that crime. And, since we are not even CHARGING you with that crime, you obviously cannot be convicted, and therefore not legally punished. The law of crime-gets-punished up here is inviolate, but in your case, it's irrelevant because your act will not even be recorded on your legal ledger."
Glenn (still a little numb from all this):
"Thanks, Thanks, Thanks--and I will do WHATEVER YOU SAY, because of this amazing relief. But I don't understand this at all--You Folks up here are KNOWN for your omniscience, your fidelity to law, and your absolute truthfulness. How in the world (or in heaven) can you 'ignore' the divine justice implications of my crime??? I know I personally will never forget my wrong-doing. Of course, I can clearly see that you are not ignoring the HUMAN implications, because you are requiring me to submit to human law on this, but how can you honestly, morally, and legally keep this act off my personal record? It obviously occurred, and can't be swept under the rug (or under the cloud, I guess).?"
Jesus turns to the Judge and asks:
"You want to tell him, or shall I?"
The Judge steals the briefest of glances at Jesus' hands on the table, and responds:
"I'll tell him--especially since I am setting some situations up for him in his future, in which he will have to manifest the same kind of heart..."
Judge (to an attentive, but puzzled little Glenn):
"You see, it's like this. Jesus and I don't really like this legal job--we only do it on an 'as-needed basis'. We actually call this judgment stuff "our strange work". We're actually artists. We sculpt, paint, make music, create flowers and worlds and laughter, etch beauty into things which replicate this beauty elsewhere, create dances in hearts, and neat stuff like that (Glenn notices that Their faces are literally beaming with joy at this point). But all these works of delightful art have structure, form, interconnections, and harmony. And this means that there was order involved, required, honored, and unfortunately, vulnerable to harm. (Their faces sadden.)
"Some of our living dances decided to 'break things', and some of our greatest breathing sculptures decided to start un-making our thinking flowers. And we had to go into the "Law and Order" business to deal with these atrocities. Hence this court, these proceedings, and this ledger/justice system. But, remember, it is only because we love our creatures with a fierce and protective love--we simply love too much to sit by and watch anti-love sprout, grow, distort, destroy, and create fear...
"But we really hate this stuff--and so we decided a long time ago on a plan whereby we could take people like you and re-direct them into becoming beauty-makers instead of beauty-breakers. Due to some of the effects of our more public artistic works, we sometimes get people like you through here. People who are wrong-doers, but who KNOW and BEMOAN the fact that they are wrong-doers--and at varying levels of atrocity and destruction.
"Of course, some that come through here simply shake their fists at us in anger, hatred-of-artists, and other irrationalities...! And so, We treat them impartially--just as We would want to be/should be treated in a similar legal situation, receiving the exactly fair amount/type of punishment. But some arrive here already broken-hearted, already empathetic toward their victims, already hopeless and crushed by guilt and despair. They are aware they have no defense against legitimate judgment, no past goodness that can possibly 'counter-balance' their crime, and can only plead for undeserved mercy, and with promises (actually, hopes) of eternal change in their character toward re-innocence.
"For these later cases, we would LOVE to simply 'ignore the crime', change their lives with 'aggressive forgiveness', and send them back out to help us with our Artists' work! But, alas, as you have pointed out, we cannot 'ignore a crime' without damaging the same order/beauty/transparency we defend here. And so, 'cheap forgiveness' (in this case, 'turning a blind eye to evil'--something we REALLY hate down there!) was not an option.
(At this point, the Judge stops for minute, closes He eyes for a second, and takes a deep, slow breath, as if He is trying to control His voice or something. Jesus, on the other hand, is looking straight at little Glenn--not sternly, not intensely, not uncomfortably, but perhaps 'patiently' is the right word? and maybe with a hint of sadness in His gentle and understated smile. Glenn gets really still and quiet at this point, sensing/suspecting that something very life-changing and very awesome is about to be revealed.)
The Judge continues:
"It was clear that what we needed was an 'extra ledger'--without any crime of its own--to which we could somehow assign the crimes of people like you. We needed to find Some Other Willing Person with a perfectly clear ledger that would let Us use their untainted ledger to get you off the hook. Or perhaps more precisely, to keep you from getting ON the hook."
Glenn blurts out at this point:
"But wouldn't that mean that this individual would then have to suffer the punishment for all those crimes--because of your justice/order rules??!
Jesus speaks up here and says:
"Absolutely. And I think you see what the real constraint is. We cannot punish the innocent--we can only visit punishment upon the guilty. In order to visit, for example, the punishment you would have gotten had we imputed your crime to you, upon somebody else, that 'somebody else' has to be legally guilty of 'your crime' first. Once the guilt is somehow assigned to that person, then the rest of the system is perfectly legal, moral, and intelligible. We are at that point punishing the guilty (not the innocent), and you are free to go be a grace-maker."
Glenn, something dawning on him, asks:
"So I take it that--since I am at this very minute, according to what you said a minute ago about me not being charged, the beneficiary of such a plan-- You obviously (1) found a way to transfer legal guilt legally; and (2) you found someone to take all the punishment, and therefore satisfy your legal processes to closure; and (3) this has already been done in the past (at least in my past)...and that I am forever and ever and ever--and 'infinitely deeply'--in somebody's debt...
The Judge says:
"'Yes' on #2 and #3, but 'No' on #1"
Glenn (barely restraining himself from blurting something out about that scene in Buckaroo Banzai...) says:
"What do you mean 'No' on #1--I thought it had to work that way?"
The Judge says:
"Just a technicality--you used the word 'transfer' and that's not exactly what happens. It's not that your guilt was already imputed to you (i.e., on your record) and we un-imputed it from your ledger and "re-imputed it" to someone else's. I suppose, you could, sort of, think of it in that 'transfer' mode, if you want to--we have used 'blot out transgressions' before to refer to it, but that was before the ink was really, really dry (he turns to Jesus and smiles)... Because if it had already been on YOUR ledger, and you had already arrived here, you would have already been in the punishment phase...Rather, the crime never was imputed to you--it was only imputed once, and that once was to this Other Willing Person's ledger."
"And you can see what happens when we get those 'I am my own Law' angry, arrogant, art-hater types through here--they could care less about our Plan, and they don't want any part of our solution, so they simply get their crimes imputed to their own ledger (when they are convicted), and the punishment system kicks in."
Glenn, squeezing his eyes shut in an obvious attempt to climb above his standard Pooh-level thinking ("I haven't thought of anything yet, have you?") tries to put this together:
"Okay, let me get this straight. First, You obviously are perfectly legal in punishing the Plan-rejecters for their crimes, right?
[Jesus and the Judge both nod in assent.]
"Secondly, I can only assume that You could NOT do this legally if the Other Willing Person wouldn't agree to your Plan, right? In other words, You couldn't legally force an innocent, empty-ledgered, hugely-generous, incredibly moral Person to suddenly 'become guilty', right?
[Jesus and Judge both nod vigorously.]
"Third, you obviously are perfectly legal in punishing this Other Willing Person, but only because they are technically and "ledger-ly" guilty, right?
[Jesus and the Judge both nod in assent again, obviously pleased at Glenn's progress.]
"Well, that leaves me with two very puzzling questions: one legal and one medi-fiscal...
(The Judge winces, as Glenn struggles to remember his philosophy terminology, and obviously 'misses the mark'...sigh).
"The legal one is the most puzzling--let's start with that: How could you legally assign my un-assigned crime to this Other Person--whether this Other Willing Person was part of, excited about, or joyously committed to the fortunate-for-Glenn plan or not? Isn't that, like, dishonest or something? Sorta like saying "Joe has righteously and heroically agreed to lie that he did the crime we know Glenn actually did"?
The Judge turns to Jesus and whispers:
"A little slow, but at least he's starting to ask moral questions for a change--"
[Jesus nods in agreement]
The Judge begins to explain:
"We sincerely commend your concern about honesty, Glenn,
-----(the Judge and Jesus wink at one another with a quick smile)-----
and We are quite impressed with your obvious lack of fear at suggesting We might be unethical or untruthful for the first time in our Eternal Existence
-----(they both barely suppress a chuckle at this)-----
--and especially so in our venture to make others more ethical and truthful through this Plan-- didn't you philosophy types call that 'Traves-try' or 'Cashew-histry"? or was it "Casuistry"?
-----(They barely restrain their guffaws, as Glenn begins to suspect that They are poking fun at him...)-----
"But the Plan ended up being very simple...but very costly
(They immediately sober at this remark, and continue in more serious and grave tones)...
"There were three legal constructs we wove together to make this a morally beautiful work.
"First, the Original Art Designs for history involved/involves a Final Judgment day, in which all unrequited evil will be punished, and this Final Day is directed to the entire world (actually universe, but let's just focus on your patch for this discussion--it will be easier for you to understand). Our residual wrath will be poured out--not on individuals (that's a different judgment), but upon the world-as-a-whole. We are judging the world-system, and everybody in it at the time--innocent individually or not--will suffer some consequences of this judgment. Are you familiar with the Bowls of Revelation, Glenn?
Glenn: "No, is that some kind of cosmetic line?
The Judge pauses for just a second in disbelief, takes a deep breath, then continues:
"No, it's a pre-announcement of plagues and disasters that will come upon the world at the End of Time. These various judgments are expressions of Our judicial wrath, and they fall upon the whole world. They do NOT discriminate between the good and the bad (just like how We made our sun to shine on the good and the bad, in better times), and so punishment falls upon some innocent souls in this process. They are part--but not contributors to--of the target of our wrath. Guilt for sin is aggregated in that outpouring, and not 'assigned' individually. Rather, wrath-as-a-whole would be poured out upon the world-as-a-whole, for guilt-as-a-whole [which would normally include your 'would-be contribution']. But when that is done, a special (and majority) part of our wrath is finished (Rev 15.1). Whoever suffers during that time, suffers (partly) for your would-be sin, without taking individual responsibility for your would-be sin, understand? [Glenn nods slowly, and really means it.]
"So, the first part of our plan was to schedule an early and 'private' version of this. [We have a lot of flexibility with time, btw]. We scheduled a Final Judgment day a couple of millennia before you were born, and made sure it was LONG BEFORE we do a lot of the 'final crime imputations'. In other words, there was a lot of unassigned guilt and a lot of humans who didn't even show up in the legal records yet (as offenders--though they would be when they reached the Public Final Judgment Day).
"Now, this Other Willing Person became a full-fledged member of the world at that time, and so we scheduled this event around His schedule. On a very specific day, We had our Private Judgment Day, and We poured our wrath-as-a-whole, on the world-as-a-whole, for sin-as-a-whole. But the thing special about this was that we allowed only the Other Willing Person into that middle-of-time 'Judgment Day Event'--everything else stayed on schedule. In other words, this Other Person had requested (as part of the Plan) that He go ahead and face the End Times early. And this we did. We did a Full, End-time Final Judgment on this One Willing Person (at His request), pouring our wrath-in-aggregate upon Him (as the only person there from the world-as-a-whole). He was therefore, in this specific judgment event, 'the whole world'! The end result was that we had 'emptied out' a VAST amount of residual, aggregate wrath, upon an aggregate "sin-as-a-whole". This created the flexibility to recognize, 'as needed', YOUR sin as part of that 'sin-as-a-whole', and therefore as something already 'punished', without having to make any spurious 'assignments' to specific individuals.
"This Other Person had a rough time of this experience--and I suspect you will grow in sober appreciation for this over the years ahead--but because of the beauty of His heart to do this for others, He was honored almost immediately thereafter.
[Tanknote: See my comments about the Isaiah53 Servant's suffering as 'all Israel' above, and note N.T. Wright's observation: "The significance of Jesus' resurrection, for Saul of Tarsus as he lay blinded and perhaps bruised on the road to Damascus, was this. The one true God had done for Jesus of Nazareth, in the middle of time, what Saul had thought He was going to do for Israel at the end of time. Saul had imagined that YHWH would vindicate Israel after her suffering at the hand of the pagans. Instead, he had vindicated Jesus after his suffering at the hands of the pagans. Saul had imagined that the great reversal, the great apocalyptic event, would take place all at once, inaugurating the kingdom of God with a flourish of trumpets, setting all wrongs to right, defeating evil once and for all, and ushering in the age to come. Instead, the great reversal, the great resurrection, had happened to one man, all by himself. What could this mean?...But if Jesus really was the Messiah, and if his death and resurrection really were the decisive heaven-sent defeat of sin and vindication of the people of YHWH, then this means that the Age to Come had already begun, had already been inaugurated, even though the Present Age, the time of sin, rebellion and wickedness, was still proceeding apace...The death and resurrection of Jesus were themselves the great eschatological event, revealing God's covenant faithfulness, his way of putting the world to rights...Saul was already living in the time of the end, even though the previous dimension of time was still carrying on all around him. The Present Age and the Age to Come overlapped, and he was caught in the middle, or rather, liberated in the middle..." [NT:WSPRS, 36f]
Glenn looks 'partially puzzled', and asks:
"I guess You were making some kind of penal 'slush fund' or 'pre-paid punishment card' this way? to apply to my later crime, when it was needed?"
The Judge, winces a bit again, and slowly shakes His head:
"No, no...not quite...we couldn't invent some imaginary sins for the Other One to be punished for (to create this 'slush' fund thing)--we had to use 'real sins' to stay morally truthful and just. We simply took advantage of the horrible fact that, in the complex metaphysics of Our reality, all sins are actually the same sin, at the core. There really is only one base-level sin: when someone, in an act of will, "destroys God, good, and the good effects that have flowed from those" by "creating" themselves as the only "god, good, and effects which will flow from that". This is the essence of sin (a sort of angry, self-obsessed repudiation of reality, oddly enough), and this generic component is present in every individual instance of evil.
"Now, without getting too "META-PHYSICAL" here
-----(He looks over at little Glenn to see if he caught the subtle pedagogy in that terminology)-----
“there's a another 'reality' just 'below, beyond, or above' the one you live it. In that reality (where We live), all the individual acts of evil in your human reality are connected, as are all the acts of goodness and artistry. You might could visualize it like the spokes on a bicycle wheel. The spokes all connect at the tire at different and individual points, but they converge onto only one point at the center of the wheel. Hmmm...maybe a circle and radii would have been a better example--how well did you do at geometry, Glenn?
"Well enough to get your point, I think--the individual radii all shared the exact same endpoint in the center of the circle. They all had exactly and numerically the same starting point, but every other point--on the way out to the edge of the circle was different from its counterparts in other spokes, right?
The Judge beams with pleasure, and smiles (with obvious relief):
"Perfectly! Good thinking!
"So, in Our case, all individual acts of human goodness have a common/shared endpoint (in Our reality), but are manifested as separate acts in yours...and the same thing obtains with sin/evil.
"Your early philosophers, especially Plato and Aristotle argued about this all the time--Forms, Ideas, kinds, individuals, genus, accidents, essences, species, etc.--but they were all basically 'correct in what they affirmed, but wrong in what they denied'. They were both right, but couldn't put the two together--due simply to the complexity of the interactions between Our reality and your derivative reality. And there was no way WE could explain it to them, since we BUILT the relationships/realities in such a way. It was a beautiful artistic design, but like so many great works of art, you cannot 'describe' all of it in words and language. But sometimes music seems to convey the relationship between the heavenly and the derivative quite well, don't you think?" (turning to Jesus, who smiles enthusiastically).
The Judge pauses for second, while Glenn is obviously trying to remember his philosophy education--especially who this 'Harry Stottle' character was--but continues when Glenn seems to mentally shrug and give up:
"So, in this Private Judgment, we actually used the metaphysical 'core' of sin as our target, so to speak. We punished this shared-component, the defining essence of the generic category of every sin--past, present, future--and in the process, obviously, punished what would eventually show up as 'your sin'...
"Sometimes we refer to it by its 'individual manifestations'--as in 'suffered for sins' (1 Pet 3.18) and 'bore our sins in His own body' (1 Peter 2.24)--and sometimes by this generic, class, single core nature--as in "...made Him to be sin for us" (2 Cor 5.21) and "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1.29)
"So, when this Other Willing One was punished for the "metaphysically prior" and "essential core" of all sin, your individual sins--even that stunt from last October (He drops his chin slightly and looks at Glenn like a reproving sixth-grade teacher might, for a second) were in there too...no legal fiction involved or required...
"In the extreme reality of that Private Final Judgment event, all Our wrath (i.e., merited sentences against convicted crimes), against all human Sin, was perfectly satisfied, and reached complete closure. You might say we have 'run out of punishment' in Our reality (Judge and Jesus look at each other for a moment, with the deepest smiles, and deepest expressions of relief I have ever seen on anybody's face).
Glenn (obviously impressed by the depth of this act), quickly runs to the next question:
"Amazing...but wait a minute...then why do You even have this court here? Why isn't everybody just 'un-convicted' like I am? Does nobody have to be punished, since that Act?...or for that matter, before that Act even?...and I had heard rumors of people being punished for their crimes in some really horrible ways...I saw pictures of it in museums and everything, presumably from escapees or something...is all that bogus?
The Judge and Jesus have lost their smiles to expressions of deep sadness at this point, and Jesus explains:
"First of all, the art in the pictures is some good stuff artistically, but their ideas of what it's like 'inside punishment' are....("how shall I say this, graciously...?")...not to be trusted, Glenn. I wouldn't put too much stock in human 'conceptions' of punishment states, and let's leave it at that for now...
"But your first question is very perceptive, and its answer is a very sad one...
The Judge takes over from here and says:
"Remember, how I mentioned that we get folk through here who HATE us, refuse to cooperate with us, and even refuse to admit that what they did was actually a crime/sin? They live in their own constructed (and constricted) reality--which is neither yours nor Ours, amazingly. We try to explain to them about this liberating Private Final Judgment, but they will not 'step into that reality' with Us. They won't even 'look into it' , to see what's there for them. Only 'inside that Judgment event' is their crime actually present and punished already! In 'normal' time/space, there are different issues, and in THEIR made-up universe, even We don't exist--much less our work on their behalf. So, they literally (or better, metaphysically) detach themselves from us, from the Judgment Event, from the benefits thereof, and from participation with anything we have to offer. They actually want to claim their crime as their own act of freedom and power--since they don't believe it was wrong at all! As self-created gods and moral-grounds (Glenn looks puzzled by this last phrase and looks briefly over at the coffee machine in the corner of the room, whereupon the Judge tries again...)...I mean, as self-created gods and as the self-appointed people who DEFINE and DECIDE what is 'good' and what is 'bad', they are proud of their 'authentic'(!) actions--as being the actions of a god! Can you believe that????
"Anyway, (He calms down from his obvious frustration), so they refuse to go into the space where their crime is present-and-punished, and they choose to live inside the universe of their own creation (where their individual crime is real, but not a crime by their standards). Unfortunately, this is EXACTLY what our standard legal sentence is--to be forced to live in the universe of your choosing and making. In the law codes, this legal sentence is technically called 'death'--irreversible separation from the real "God, good, and all that flows...", etc. (The Judge notices that Glenn raises an eyebrow at this comment about 'the universe of your choosing', and proceeds to clarify.) And believe you me--you do NOT want to live in a universe of your own making, if you are not really God-as-artist and not really good-as-order-lover...Such universes are devoid of the things which flow from our love of beauty, warmth, laughter, pleasure, joys, order, predictability, community, friendship, and even satisfactions and closure...can you imagine a universe in which you can do anything you want, but in which nothing ever produces the desired benefits and pleasures you thought they would--or they even produce the opposite effects?! But let's not go there--it's a sad state of affairs by our standards, and most who go there never really 'get it'...
"Okay--does that make sense now, Glenn? Do you see how the Other Willing Person can suffer for sin, without it being a legal 'fiction' or illegal 'cooking the books'?
Glenn has grown a bit subdued at this point, and asks, timidly:
"You mean that I got the full benefit of this Other Willing Person's punishment --what I might operationally view as a full 'pardon'--by simply 'walking into that truth-space'?! By simply being honest about my crime, my deserved punishment, and about the story You have just told me?? That's all it took?
The Judge--with moistness in His eyes-- looks at Jesus, who is gazing thoughtfully at something in the middle of His right hand, and then looks back at Glenn:
"That's all it took from your side, Glenn..."
Glenn catches the emphasis on 'your' in the Judge's voice, look back and forth between the Judge and Jesus (who are now looking at one another in soft-solemn-silence), and about five seconds later (he's a slow thinker) realizes that the 'other' side must have been pretty bad...
Glenn thinks about this for about five, eternal minutes...recognizes the personal implications of this act...and then asks
"When we're through here, sirs, can I go and express my thanks to the Other Willing Person before I go out free?"
... at this moment, and for only a brief moment, Glenn suddenly senses some kind of 'change' in the room, or in time, or in his perception of color, or in his balance...then the Judge gets up--looking like He's about to cry--and walks over to the Art supply table, picks up a brush, dabs it in the Teal oil vial. Before removing it, He turns to Jesus and asks
"Teal's good, don't you think?"
Jesus quietly--and looking like He's about to cry, too--simply whispers
The Judge takes the brush (with the teal oil) and hands it to Jesus, who gets up, walks over to the mural, and paints a short, slightly-wavy line into the existing painting. The stroke seems to fit, and its edges tend to merge/blur with the other strokes around it, but it definitely adds a little something to the overall piece. Jesus returns the brush to the table, gives the Judge a slight hug (?!), and they both sit down--without speaking a word to Glenn about any of this.
At this point, in the deep quiet that has fallen upon the room, Jesus softly speaks up and says to the Judge:
"Let me cover the next part of the Plan--You always do a better job on Point 3".
[The Judge nods in assent and listens attentively to Jesus.]
Jesus turns and addresses Glenn:
"The first part of the Plan would probably have been adequate to meet our freedom-loving desires for you folks, but there were some other/related issues which had to be addressed at the same time. Point Two of the plan was directed at these other issues, but it also had another legal/moral aspect which added to the purity and moral beauty of the act of the Other Willing Party. And, I might add, it will eventually have MASSIVELY wonderful benefits for many, many people like you!
"Point Two of the plan was necessitated by the fact of 'semi-enemies' against your people (not actually full-members of your reality, but one-foot-there and one-foot-here types), and by the need to create some kind of community in which sin's in-time effects could be challenged, overcome, and perhaps exceeded by good. This led to the creation of a new 'trans-national' nation, with its own laws, systems, values, etc.--a new community of humanity 'by art design'. Of course, it was populated by 'normal' folks, which is a nice way of saying 'sinners' of every shape and stripe.
"So, the Planners got together and created a new organizational unit/nation-state named "ROSA" (Republic of the Second Adam--although the citizens called it 'Redeemed of the Second Adam'), and found a rag-tag group of people willing to emigrate to the new country/state, and willing to honor and obey the President/Leader. Most of them were actually convicted criminals who had been through here, and had gone back out and created great beauty and freedom subsequently. The Other Willing One was selected to be the President, King, Leader, Lord, Shepherd, whatever you want to call it, but all authority and responsibility for the nation/people rested with Him (there was no need for 'checks and balances' like you have to have with 'regular folk' institutions). I suspect you have already figured out that the Other Willing One was considered by all his new subjects (who had all been through this very room that you are in, by the way) to be a rare individual of unsurpassed love, faithfulness, moral purity, compassion, strength, commitment to your kind, truthfulness, and reliability--would I be right that you have already figured that out?
Glenn nods his head, very slowly, very seriously, and with just a trace of mist in his eyes for the first time...
Jesus looks over at the Judge solemnly and gives him a very slight nod, which is returned by the Judge. Jesus continues:
"We'll skip some of the preliminary information...unlike SOME people I know who will NOT do so in the future...
[Jesus looks at Glenn with the same school-teacher look the Judge gave him earlier, then softens when Glenn obviously has no clue as to his reference...and continues]:
"One day early in His presidency, a delegation from the foreign--and actually slightly hostile--country (i.e., the 'semi-enemies' mentioned earlier) arrives and demands an audience with Him. Of course, He greets them warmly, welcomes them, wines and dines them, inquires as to the health of all their friends and family, (actually even offers them free citizenship), and extends every courtesy and honor to them. He is aware, of course, that many of His new subjects had fled that nation, since it was known for its strict (but fair) legal laws and swift justice. Not necessarily a bad place, but a little 'low' on beauty, arts, learning, and second-chances. And The President suspects they will approach Him in the morning with issues about some of His new subjects/citizens.
"He is right, and in the first diplomatic meeting the next day, the lead delegate requests the extradition of a number of His subjects to them for capital punishment in their country. As they documented quite exhaustively, this group of individuals had all been convicted of serious crimes in their country, had all been sentenced to death--for legitimate reasons of justice, and then had apparently fled and been given asylum in the land of ROSA. Accordingly, even though no extradition treaties were in force between ROSA and the requesting country, the delegation firmly insisted that justice must be served, and that these men and women must return with them and be put to death.
"The President began reading the names on the list out loud"
[At this point Jesus closes His eyes, as if remembering or visualizing the scene..]
"commenting to the delegates that some of these people were the most beautiful, love-weaving, and soaring souls He had ever met"
[At this point Jesus opens His eyes and looks at the Judge, eyes moist, and says something to the Judge like
"they had Lauren the Sunrise's name on that list, remember!--can you believe that?! And Bret the Barnabas-souled?!... and Norm the Jonathan-willed! and ..."
[He stops in frustration, and bows His head.)
Jesus takes a deep breath, composing Himself and continues:
"The President finishes reading the list, and puts it down. The room is silent as He ponders the matter for a few minutes, and then He announces His intention. 'I am sorry but I cannot comply with this request, for a number of reasons. I greatly respect your laws, your zeal, and your pursuit of justice--all things we share in common spirit--but in the current situation, I am afraid I will have to respectfully decline your request. So, let's move on to the next order of business, shall we, and see if I can perhaps be more useful to you in that matter."
"The leader of the foreign delegation stands up at this point and says 'There IS no next order of business--we are only here to satisfy our country's need for justice. Surely you cannot impede justice, Sir?'
"And then the dialogue starts--here's a condensed version:
President: It is not my remotest intention to impede true justice, Sir; it is just that this particular request for this particular type of justice is something that is not in my actual power to comply with, nor am I legally obligated to do so--under even HUMAN international extradition law.
Delegate: These are odd words, Sir--please explain.
President: Gladly. First of all, we do not have capital punishment in my country, and even under HUMAN international extradition law, I am not legally obligated to hand them over to face capital sentences. You did say you were going to execute them, right?
Delegate: Yes. Without exception, without delay, without further considerations. They have been tried, convicted, sentenced to death.
President: That's what I thought. So, you can see my obvious legal posture--I am not legally obligated to give them over.
Delegate: Hmmm...I see your 'technical' reason for denying us justice, but I would think that your commitment to justice would go beyond mere 'obligation' and that you would be eager to hand them over to satisfy the demands of our nation's legal system of justice. So, I can only assume that you will not because--in some odd fashion--you CAN NOT? But are you not the Sovereign of this country? And if so, what could you possibly mean by it not being in your 'actual power' to hand them over to us?
President: Yes, I am the 'Sovereign' (Although I prefer terms like 'Most Tasked Servant Leader' or 'The one with most resources assigned to help his people', but we'll go with 'Sovereign' for this discussion), and, under our ROSA Charter, I have accepted full responsibility for the actions of my citizens relative to extra-national matters of the past. The nation's people had its obligations, legal liabilities, and debts to other countries when I took over the Presidency, and I fully shouldered those liabilities as the Official Leader and Representative of my people. I have made good on many of their debts and contracts with foreign governments out of my own personal resources, labor, and time. Accordingly, as their official Representative, I have assumed international responsibility/blame for their past actions, and, at the same time, I have sworn to protect them 'with all possible means' from pursuit by those countries for those past actions (that I assumed as their Sovereign). That means that I personally have become liable -- due to my legal role as their representative (as authorized by our internal Law Code)--for their 'guilt' relative to you...And, in this case, it would (He pauses thoughtfully) require me to turn myself over to you, for transport and execution in your country. Hmmm, this way, as their authorized representative, your justice needs should be satisfied by MY death (which I CAN order/allow, and am obligated to do under ROSA legal statutes), instead of THEIR deaths (which I am not obligated to order, and which I am sworn otherwise in the ROSA Charter to 'fight to the death to prevent' and to do so 'with all available means')....[The President turns then to one of his attendants and tells them to go tell the Vice President to prepare for immediate Transfer of Authority.]
As the attendant is about to leave the room, the Delegate objects loudly to the attendant: "Wait--don't go yet. This is not settled that easily!" and then responds to the President: "I truly admire your heroic dedication to your people. Our history is also filled with stories of great-hearted leaders who sacrificed their lives for their soldiers, their families, their country. But we have never let an innocent hero die in place of a convicted criminal--it just isn't right.
President: I couldn't agree more--and I don't do it either. In our internal law courts, we NEVER allow substitutes either! But perhaps I wasn't clear in my explanation. This matter is NOT in my law court, NOR in your law court--it is 'between' our law courts, for lack of a better term. According to my laws, when I accepted my Presidency, I became a suit of armor around my people. I stand between them and the outside world. When the world looks at them--it sees me. When the world sees me--it sees them. I and my people are one, we are united--legally--before the outside world. Going back to the 'suit of armor' image, when they 'put me on', their underlying 'dirt' (i.e. guilt, problems, etc.) spread to me (or in most cases, rubbed off onto me). The image is not the best, but you get the idea: when I wrapped myself 'around this nation', I BECAME the nation to the outside world. I am no longer just the "President of ROSA", but I AM "ROSA" the corporate entity. So, according to my law--the only law I am under, I remind you--when you execute me in your country, you have executed them. So, wouldn't that solve your 'justice' problem, since you would NOT be executing an 'innocent' party, but actually a 'guilty' party?
Delegate: Well, I can see the force of the logic of your law, and the inherent 'shared responsibility/guilt' of your position as Representative. But it wouldn't be just to execute just one man (no matter HOW well-known you are) in the place of the 60 people on that Condemned list? One for 60--? That's not justice.
The President looks at the Delegate like he's crazy for a second, and sardonically remarks: Huh? Where'd you get your law degree from--one of those $25 email/spam specials? You KNOW it doesn't work that way, friend. If sixty people conspire and kill one person, don't you still condemn all sixty to capital punishment? Of course you do! That's a 60-to-1 deal! How just is that?! Or the opposite case: a serial killer murders 60 people--is it justice to only be able to kill him 'only once'?! Seriously, now--can you think of any solid reason why this would not satisfy your needs for justice? I am willing to help here, friend, but we need to move forward on this.
Delegate: Actually (holding his nose up in the air briefly), I graduated from that XYZ University mentioned so many times on the Christian Thinktank, figuring that it MUST be a good school if so many people went to it...(he he). But I think I must agree with you. Since all your citizens are basically rejects from other 'metaphysical law-abiding countries' like ours, Your ROSA nation is not esteemed very highly anywhere. So, I strongly suspect that my people might even be more pleased with your death than with the specific criminals. They might see You as suffering the consequences for your people--and for all they stand for now. Interesting concept...But still, even though I can see how it's legal now--given that you are You-the-Nation, instead of You-the-Individual, I know some of the people back in my country wanted these criminals to be made examples of, for reasons of deterrence. Not sure your death would accomplish the same result.
President: Whoa, Whoa, Whoa--this deal is COMPLETELY OFF, if you are talking about non-justice issues, dude! I will go to help you satisfy retributive justice ONLY--not for utilitarian, community, pedagogical reasons (as good and as important as they are)...I am a fair man, and deeply committed to moral equalization, reciprocity, and pure-and-simple retributive justice...for that I will die for...But I am not obligated under my law to assume your responsibilities to your people, to influence your community behavior for the good. I have to do that HERE, with my folks. That stuff is YOUR responsibility, and I am sure you have an abundance of internal cases you can use for your social engineering needs! I can give you advice, and maybe even some marketing support, but your intentions (however noble, practical, and wise) to use my people for your internal needs other than justice, are beyond the scope of my charter to help you with. And, my sworn obligations to protect my people from these 'good intentions' means I will resist you with all my means (and I have some new weapons that will really do some damage in your space, pal)...
The Delegate, realizing that his only option is to take the President up on his offer, agrees to the deal and asks whether a contract is needed. The President indicates that one IS needed, and that it specify three conditions: (1) that the type of execution He is to bear is of adequate 'extremity' as to reasonably satisfy the justice needs proportionate to the crimes of the sixty [in other words, probably the most severe and painful type of death will be required] ; (2) that the governing body of the country pre-sign a document admitting, before the laws of BOTH countries, that said death will be the complete and final satisfaction of all justice claims against the sixty subjects on the list, for all crimes known and unknown up to that point; and (3) that the dead body of the President be shipped back to ROSA within three days.
After the document is written and signed, with departure and execution dates specified, the Delegate's curiosity is too much to bear, and he, embarrassed, asks the President: "I have just got to know--are you at liberty to describe any of these new weapons??"
The President smiles and says: "Yes, I can. My favorite is the "PVA Equalizer". When you set the Polarity to "P" and aim it at objects, it sucks the Forms out of the object, so, for example, all dogs lose their 'dogness', turning them all into piles of undifferentiated aggregates of accidents. If you reverse the polarity and set it to "A", it sucks the Accidents out of the objects. So, for example, if you aim it at all dogs, all the differentiating characteristics between the dogs disappear, and what you end up with are piles of objects which MIGHT be dogs, but you really can't see them that well--they are out-of-focus, and look essentially like piles of undifferentiated substances...pretty awesome, eh?
The Delegate--a cat owner--blanches, because he has drawn the obvious implication of what happens if the PVA Equalizer is turned on cats AND dogs at the same time...All he can say is "How soon can we leave for my country?"
Jesus stops for a second at this point in the story, gets a drink of water, and asks Glenn:
"So, was it un-just for the President to die for the 'sins' of His people in that case?"
"No, I don't think so. His official role/responsibility as Representative included that function--under that special legal arrangement--so He truly could 'assume the guilt' of His people (even though they had committed those crimes BEFORE He had any accountability or control over them)--for the purpose of satisfying justice. It didn't remove the actual 'sin' from them, I guess, but sorted 'stretched it over him" too, with the international legal guilt becoming His. But once He had been justly executed, its 'residual presence' on them would have had no legal consequences, relative to those justice-seekers, right? Essentially the same result as a 'pardon', right? Am I getting it?
Jesus closes His eyes, smiles, and then smiles at the Judge, and simply says:
At this point, there is visual disturbance in the room. Jesus' pager--which had been on the table all this time--generates a noticeable flash of light, as the word 'HELP' briefly appeared on the display. The flash intensity was about the level of an indoor camera flash, lighting up the whole room, causing them to blink for a second.
The Judge says to Jesus:
"that was pretty bright--You better jump on that one."
Jesus picks up His pager, pushes a few buttons and starts to rush from the room. He then turns to Glenn and says:
"I have to rush out to take care of this, but I'll see you again in the Releasing Room, when you are picking up your Allowance stipend and Going Away presents--see you then"
and then He rushes out of the room.
[Glenn's disappointment at Jesus' leaving--he suddenly realizes that he has grown to actually experience 'comfort' from this Jesus, instead of being afraid of Him-- is quickly overshadowed by his confusion and curiosity about Jesus' last remark--which makes NO SENSE to Glenn at all.
Glenn looks at the Judge, hoping for some kind of explanation, but all the Judge says is:
"Don't worry about what Jesus just said-- yet--most people don't understand that for 5 to 10 years after release.... Let's move on to the last Point of our Plan.
The Judge begins:
"First, see if you can summarize the first two points--specifically, the legality aspects.
"Okay, first Point One. In that case, the Other Willing One suffered as the-world-as-a-whole for sin-as-a-whole (which included the 'generic' core of my crime). This is going to happen legally at the End of Time anyway (under some kind of 'aggregate punishment' and 'aggregate sin' law and/or principle). So, all that was different about this Special, Early instance of that was the world-as-a-whole was 'less populated' than expected. So the legality and appropriateness of the principle for the Final, Final Judgment was just as valid for the Private, Early, "Final Judgment". And, as a result, my sin--which was included in 'sin-as-a-whole' by its very defining nature--was punished, Check?"
Glenn (frowning a bit at the Judge's response) continues:
"In Point Two--which I think I understand a little better--the President is authorized by law to assume any responsibilities or obligations I have to laws outside His nation. In this case, I bore legal guilt for a crime I had done in another nation, but the President--without being the actual perp for that past act--had the legal responsibility (voluntarily assumed and accepted by Him at this inauguration) to represent me (as one of His citizens) before international law. That means that he could 'bear my international legal liability to punishment', even though I personally still carried the more general 'moral wrongness' of my act. So, the legality and appropriateness in this Point is due to the fact that the President was authorized by the law of our nation to represent me ('present himself as being me, judicially') before external tribunals. He was my external representative, but, of course, I would still be responsible for any illegal acts done within our country. He wasn't authorized to 'be me' in internal law demands, only external law demands. Right?
[Glenn, frowning again at the Judge's response, cannot help but ponder--for a microsecond--if the Judge is somehow an old Trekkie, but quickly dismisses the thought.]
Glenn adds a quick question:
"One quick question about this story: if the Other Willing Person died in Point 1, how could He also die again in Point 2?"
"Good question--shows you're thinking...The answer is that we scheduled those events a long time before. This problem came up early, and we desperately wanted to be able to salvage as much freedom and beauty and hope as possible, so we planned this out way in advance. So both of the deaths happened at the same time, in the same moment of time, in the same death-event."
"Now, I have to test your knowledge on something before we move to Point Three, so bear with me...Have you ever had any surgery involving any type of anesthetic?
"Sure--several. Dental work, root canals, extracted teeth. One tumor removed from a foot, and an au-tho-ro-so-co-- some kind of knee surgery. Oh, and I had some kind of fluid bubble removed from my hand once.
Judge: "You're right--
[He smiles, omnisciently...Glenn realizes that he fell for THAT ONE good)... and the Judge continues:
"Good--we have a base concept I can work with here. Let's take the foot surgery case, since that involved a large tumor and tons of residual, internal scar tissue. Did it hurt you?
"Of course not--I was knocked out under General Aunt Thesia (Glenn smiles expectantly, but when he sees the Judge is in 'we are not amused' mode, he goes back to being serious again). No, I felt not a thing.
"Do you mean to say they didn't do massive damage to your foot, cutting, slicing, stitching it up with needles and wire? That you suffered no blood loss from the foot? That your foot was 'unchanged' except for the tumor at the end of the operation?!
"Noooooooooooo...that's not what I said...I said that it didn't hurt me, that I didn't feel anything. I am sure that if the foot could talk, it would have been screaming all the time through! As in 'real pain'.
"But isn't your foot a part of YOU? Didn't YOU sustain the damage to the foot? Wasn't it YOUR foot that was wounded, but without you being subjected to the obvious damage/sensations to the nerve endings down there? Would it be technically correct, even, to say that 'YOU were cut, sliced, etc.' (even though you didn't FEEL it)?
"Sure, I guess...but where is this going, Judge? ...are you hinting at some kind of surgical removal of my sin or something now?!
[Glenn winces and "holds the wince", waiting for the Judge's response.
"Oh, no, no, no--don't worry about that At ALL..."
Glenn audibly sighs and relaxes before the Judge says:
"This is about your death."
[Glenn jumps up in the chair again--"DEFCON 4,345,112" level--and then slowly slumps back down in it, in a movement of practiced resignation.]
Glenn (with a face older than the world), says to himself:
"I knew there had to be a catch...there's always been a catch..."
The Judge, knowing Glenn's heart, says softly:
"It's already happened, little Glenn, and you never felt a thing, did you?"
Glenn, settled now in the familiar comfort of his hopelessness, says tiredly:
"No, I didn't--but that doesn't change a thing. I am dead now, trapped (he looks around) in this dream-state, cut off from anything real. Any minute now some kid is gonna walk up, look at me, and say 'I see dead people'...and to think I have been fantasizing about and inventing--all this time-- a beautiful story of hope and life and generosity and forgiveness and acceptance for little ME, only to find out its a make-believe, never-would-happen-to-me, lie--the ravings of a dead mind in a dead body...how typical..."
[He slumps down again, face older than the world, looks at the table, and closes his mouth, ears, and heart.]
The Judge has watched all this, with a face now grown older than Glenn's, moves around the table close to Glenn and says softy:
"Actually, you are the ONLY part of you that IS alive, now..."
That remark is puzzling enough in its use of personal pronouns that even Glenn-in-his-despair-night cannot help but be confused enough to awaken:
The Judge continues, in a more normal tone:
"Yes, that's right--a different part of you died under Aunt Thesia
[He smiles warmly, as He gently coaxes a weak little smile out of Glenn)
"while you-in-that-chair-now is the part that (a) was untouched; (b) stayed alive; and (c) didn't feel a thing...Would you like to know more about this 'operation'? Blink Once for YES, Twice for NO, Three Times for 'Repeat the Question" (He smiles)...
Glenn-- noticing for the first time that the Judge's gentle, warm manner reminds him of Jesus-- grudgingly responds:
"Okay, okay--what's the deal? I came through Intake here for help--to avoid being condemned to death for my crime--and now I find out it didn't work,--in spite of all this malarkey you have been feeding me about this beautiful and hope-creating 'substitution' stuff(!)-- but rather that you really DID kill me, or at least a part of me"...
[It dawns on Glenn--being a way-too-literal person--that some 'part' of him must now be MISSING, and he frantically starts checking body parts, looking in the mirror, wondering if maybe they killed his sense of humor, his 'keen fashion sense', his conciseness of prose writing, his grammatical gymnastic skills, etc.)...]
"WHAT DID YOU TAKE FROM ME????
"Calm down, little guy! Nothing in you is really gone (physically OR metaphysically, at this point)--we have just 'isolated' an old part of your personality/character (a part you never liked anyway) so it no longer connects to the real 'life' in you anymore. The old 'part' of you (if you want to use material terms) which was the main influence in motivating you to commit your crime (and all your OTHER sins, too) we 'separated' from the rest of you, the you-in-that-chair. We just 'cut' the main connections between your 'old sin self' and the You-as-you-experience-yourself-now. Remember, how sometimes you would 'argue with yourself' about doing right or wrong? We just 'did a little work' on that self that argued for the wrong the most.
"You really should feel much better, much more alive, much more creative going forward because of this...
Well, okay, that doesn't really sound too bad (yet), but what does this have to do with Point 3 and 'legality'?
The Judge, glad to finally be back on track, starts to explain:
"Well, actually it IS point 3. Remember, how in Point 2 you 'shared your guilt' with the president because of your legal union with Him?
"Well, in Point 3 we effect a metaphysical/spiritual union between you and the Other Willing One, so that He 'shares His death' with YOU. It sort of like a contagious disease, maybe, to conceptualize it. The Other Willing One -- in that Special Final Judgment--took death-for-sin 'into Himself', and everybody who unites with Him (by a sort metaphysical 'blood transfusion', or maybe 'spirit transfusion' is more like it), 'catches' this death-disease, which only attacks/affects this 'old bad self' inside you. Thus, the judicial death HE died, is shared (not exclusively, since there are LOTS and LOTS of little Glenns out there) with YOU, and you carry around in your body now, a 'judged component'--that has 'has died' under Our justice/wrath.
"This is beyond legal union (Point 2)--this is metaphysical/spiritual union. The actual pain of the death was borne by Him, so long ago (sorta like your foot), but --after the union is created--you participate in/share His residual 'death-status' of that, by it being 'injected' into your 'old sinful selfness'. He took the painful death-act-for-sin, and gave you the pain-less (from your CURRENT perspective) death-status-for-sin. See?
Glenn sees this even more clearly than the other two points, and realizes the legality problem is not even present here (at least not in the same way). To test his understanding, he tries to feed his understanding back to the Judge:
"Let's see if I have this right. In Point 1, He experienced the painful wrath/justice for my sin (as part of 'all sin'). In Point 2, He experienced the painful execution of the claims of external justice upon me for my crime/sin specifically/individually, by being my legal/authorized Representative in that act of execution. And now, In Point 3, He shares his 'executed for sin' status with me, but does so through 'grafting me into' His life/standing, AFTER His painful experience of Points 1 & 2. He shares it with me--after the union--like my hand shares its blood with my foot, or my head shares its 'identity' with my heart. Close?
Judge: "Dead on-- pardon the pun" (He smiles).
Glenn: "But I obviously still have a question--
Judge (patiently): "Obviously...
"I don't remember ever even MEETING this Other Willing One, much less ever Uniting with Him--how/when/where did THAT happen?
"Well, it happened when we were talking at the end of Point One. Do you remember anything 'odd' happening between the time you asked if you could say 'Thank You' to the Other Willing One, and the time I handed the paint brush to Jesus?
"Yes, I do. I think I had a moment of inner-ear trouble or something (like when I blow my nose real hard with a bad cold), because the room seemed to 'shift' or 'change' or 'wobble' or something...but just for a second, that was all."
"That's when your 'old self died'. At the instant before that, you were pondering my explanation about 'stepping into the truth of that event'. Remember me explaining about how I couldn't get some people to even look into that event, much less admit that their sin was there? Well, you didn't have that problem. When you thought about it, you became convinced that it was true--that the Other Willing One had actually done that for you, and had cleared your future for you. At that moment, you 'stepped into that event' (we call it 'faith', sometimes) and began living in that 'combined' reality. Immediately thereafter, your spirit was supernaturally united... [Judge puts up his hands and quickly says: "don't ask--you wouldn't understand"]...with the Spirit of the Other Willing One. And the second you united with this Righteous One, the old-sin-self in you died because it was also united with the sin-as-a-whole being killed back then. It died 'back then', by being united with that act 'now'.
Glenn, feeling a little woozy, but taking a strange liking to such terse and barely-comprehensible prose, asks:
"But how in the world did I (and my old-sin-self) get back to the past to somehow 'be there' two-thousand years ago??? That's a time travel thing, and I've never understood that stuff.
"Strangely enough, that's the simple part to explain. The Other Willing One is an Eternal being, in both directions of Time. If you get united with him at, say 533 AD, then you are connected with Him 'eternally'. He carries all His past and future 'inside Him' (like I do), and so, when you got united with Him, you united with His past--and, presto, you 'touched' 33 AD, when this event occurred.
"As you have obviously surmised, the Other Willing One did not STAY dead, and so His past is 'accessible' to anyone who unites with Him now, by this faith-act you did.
"So, when you mentally/volitionally 'stepped into the truth of that event', you also 'stepped into the metaphysical/spiritual reality of that event' (sorta like you do in prayer or worship, sometimes). Your old-sin-self therefore was linked-via-union with the 'sin-as-a-whole' package' back then, and was judged' and 'punished' back then...that part of you really was--spiritually speaking--at the Cross, dying. You-in-the-chair-now , which we call the "new Glenn", just didn't feel the pain--the Other Willing One did.
"But remember, the old-sin-self's death in this case is not non-existence (yet). It will still argue with you till your body changes for the last time. But it will no longer have any life of its own, no power, just a future of fading...
Glenn, slowly speaks:
"So, in some real way, something in me DID legally die for my sin, but because of this Plan, someone Else bore the actual pain for the 'new' me?
Judge (sitting back in His chair):
"Yes, but we couldn't do just Point 3 for some of the considerations in Points 1 and 2...plus there are other issues that had to be addressed that you can learn about later--we just wanted to answer your questions about the legality of the process, remember?"
Glenn, sighs deeply, and speaks very slowly and deliberately:
"Yes, I remember...so what's the next step, and when do I get to thank this incredible Other Willing One?"
Judge smiles warmly and answers:
"Well, the next and final step is the Releasing Room--the staff calls it 'Jubilee Junction'"
[Judge shakes his head, but still with a smile]
"and you'll see Him there."
They get up and go into another room down the hall, equally plain and windowed, but with a pleasant lady clerk and desk there. The Judge introduces little Glenn to her ('Flo'), and she smiles and digs out a file folder. She asks Glenn to be seated, while she gets out what she calls his "going away presents".
Glenn is obviously confused by this, but doesn't want to irritate anyone with his constant questions...besides, his little heart is beginning to sense the intensity of the … 'generosity'?--is the only word he can come up with for it--in the air.
The details of this Other Willing One's sacrificial yet loyal and courageous life, the obvious love and earnest hope that went into this Plan, the almost unbelievable 'good fortune' he has stumbled into--are all starting to whisper peace to his soul.
While the sweet lady is packing a cardboard box with various things from a supply cabinet, little Glenn notices a tall man with a medical blindfold-bandage over his eyes walking by in the hall. The gentlemen stops suddenly, as if he has smelled/sensed something odd, and proceeds to enter the room and walk toward the Judge and Glenn. Glenn notices that he doesn't seem to have a problem knowing where to walk, though, so he is not sure what the eye-bandages might mean.
"Is this little Glenn?"
… the fellow asks the Judge.
"Yes, it is, Uri--and I am so glad you got to meet him before he left,"
… says the Judge.
"Glenn, meet Uri--he works here in Intake, and helps scramble emergency teams for Jesus".
Glenn and Uri shake hands, and Uri laughs and hugs Glenn and says to him
"I am so glad you made it, little friend--it's an encouragement to us all..."
and then he leaves quickly, obviously in silent tears.
Glenn turns to the Judge, mystified, and asks the first question on his mind:
"What happened to his eyes?"
The Judge looks at Glenn, and pauses, trying to decide whether to tell Glenn about it or not... and decides Glenn might be able to encourage someone else to call in, if he understands the story...
Glenn watches the Judge look at sweet Flo, who looks back at the Judge with the wisest look, deepest eyes, and slightest nod he has ever seen. Then she 'lightens back up' and goes back to packing the box, ignoring the two other people in the room.
The Judge slowly starts, still hesitant:
"Remember when Jesus' pager went off during our meeting, and he had to rush out to Intake? That bright flash of light, with the word 'HELP' on the read-out?
"Well, that's a signal that somebody is headed for Intake, asking for our help--like you did. Well, the pager Jesus carries is a special-build model, the light intensity varies based on the urgency or criticality of the need. The greater the need or lower the chances of being able to help them in time, the brighter the light flash. The flash you saw was fairly bright, and that's why Jesus had to rush out. Make sense?
"I think so...the more sinful the person is who calls in, the greater the flash--I guess, right?"
Judge, obviously wrestling with Himself as to how to tell this story to Glenn, for some reason:
"No, it's not based on that—it’s based more on need and loss of hope."
Glenn jumps in:
"Oh, I get it! The more intense the personal pain or anguish the caller is in, the brighter the flash, right?"
"No...unfortunately, it's sort of the reverse..."
[He steals a glance at Flo, who gives Him that 'sage' look again)...]
"You see, the more a person feels the pain, the earlier they are in the process sorta...as long as they are feeling the pain so intensely, they are still likely to call in for help eventually, and the 'volume level' of their cry for help will be fairly LOUD...
But if...if (He swallows hard)...if someone has somehow gotten used to the pain, and has become convinced--by their experience or by other people (even by religious people sometimes [shaking His head])--that there is no real hope (they are 'too sinful' or 'too far gone' or their 'sin is too big' or something, or that they are 'too little', 'too unimportant' or 'of too little upside'), or that no one really wants to help them anyway, or even sometimes that 'help' is never really free and always costs more than they have, so that they might as well be quiet, hide, and endure it, then so many of them don't ever call...and you can see why, obviously...
"But every now and then, someone like that gets to the very end of that long and worn-down rope, and yet there is still a tiny spark of child left in them--and so, without any real hope and still expecting another disappointment, they call anyway"
(He is struggling with controlling His voice here)
"and the heart-fatigue of carrying the burden of guilt or isolation or fear or despair for so long is so great that their message only comes into our system as a tiny, weak little whisper...that's our highest risk case, and the flash on the pager is at maximum brightness, alerting us that we have a 'high risk' case coming through the door...
"Well, Uri was in a meeting with Jesus, when we got a case like that--and the flash from the pager was so bright, it flash-burned his eyes. He'll be okay in a couple of weeks, though...but he had to scramble the care team with Jesus--while blinded--to help in the Emergency Intake room.
Glenn is deeply moved by this:
"Wow--that's heavy...how long has he been that way--when did this happen to him?
The Judge looks at Flo, who seems to be struggling herself at this point (making little Glenn a little uncomfortable here, as if he is really missing something), and then He looks back at him and says softly:
Glenn--obviously trying to even remember where he was earlier this week--finally asks:
"Wait a minute--I came into Intake yesterday morning, and I didn't see anybody else there--"
The Judge just looks at Glenn wordlessly for about ten seconds, until he notices little Glenn's face start to change with understanding...He watches Glenn's face age 20 years in ten seconds of insight, and then He, mercifully, stands up and walks over to the window and looks out. The room is as quiet as death, as Flo and the Judge allow little Glenn some 'privacy' to begin to ponder the depths of love, and power of good, and freedom of beauty he has crawled into...
A minute passes this way, then two...but the Judge is watching Glenn's reflection in the glass, and when he notices the aging process start to reverse, He turns back to Flo and asks, cheerfully:
"Well, what going away presents do you have for little Glenn today, Flo?!"
They give little Glenn all sorts of gifts and tools and allowance and treasures--but he's not as surprised by it now as he would have been a week earlier. He has already come to understand 'how these People work'--their whole lives and hearts are nothing but generosity and love and grace and outpouring and Pain-absorbing and freeing... he is delighted and thankful for the box (he barely hoped for just a little freedom, not gifts and support on top of it!), but not shocked by it...he realizes, though, that the first time he does this to someone else--they will be shocked too.
But the judge notices that Glenn has changed--like they all do--and his heart is new, yet old...and that his 'new love self' is starting to influence his thought patterns...and He wonders how long it will be before Glenn 'connects the dots' and ...
"It's Jesus, isn't it---?"
Glenn quietly asks
"The marks in the hands...the memories in the stories...the care in His eyes...the tenderness in His manner...and I'm the teal brushstroke on the painting, aren't I?...and YOU carried the pager on THAT day, HIS day of pain, didn't you? and how bright was the flash on the pager that day Your precious Son--He is your son, isn't he??-- Jesus cried out, as He took the sin of the world on His heart? What was that flash-from-love, but flash-of-pain LIKE?
The Judge, eyes red with the tears only parents bereaved of children have, simply says:
"The dark after-image alone was three hours long..."
And Jesus walks into the room--and the world begins anew, with a fresh, warm, dancing sunrise-- to escort little Glenn into his new life of hope and healing, love and laughter, warmth and wonder...and of encouraging other little Glenns to try one last whisper for help.