I have a confession to make. This confession may change the way that you picture me. If you have a good opinion of me, I hope that it will not alter your view of me too much but it may just do that. What is my confession? It is this: At eleven years old, I was convicted of murder.
Many of you may be gasping right now but what you have just read is the truth. I was convicted of murder when I was 11 years old.
How, you may ask, has this been kept a secret for so many years?
I have not been trying to keep this a secret for 37 years; it may have been buried but through not fault or manipulation of my own. Now, why I may have been too shy to admit that I had murdered someone as a child, I now boldly proclaim it.
How am I a free man today?
I am a free man today because I was pardoned. I was not pardoned by Florida Gov. Reuben Askew, who was in office at that time. I was not pardoned by President Gerald Ford, even though he pardoned former President Richard Nixon. Then who pardoned me? you may ask.
I was pardoned by my King and that is how I am free today. I was pardoned by that same man, Jesus Christ, who I murdered.
You may cry, “How could you have murdered Jesus Christ?”
I will answer:
You should know. You were right there helping me.
Didn’t we help Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss? We should be hanging at the end of a noose like Judas with our bribe money scattered at our feet.
Weren’t we there crying for the release of Barabbas and shouting “Crucify him” as we called for the blood of Jesus? You and I should have been executed for our crimes, along with Barrabbas.
Weren’t we there when Pontius Pilate washed his hands of the matter? Our hands were just as dirty as his.
Didn’t we scourge our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that day? Weren’t we as guilty as the Romans soldiers giving him all those lashes? Didn’t you and I deserve the beating instead?
Doesn’t the sound of that hammer driving those nails into His hands and feet still ring in your ear? You and I should have been nailed to that Cross, instead of Jesus.
He was a lamb without spot or blemish. He willingly suffered through these things so He could come forth out of the grave three days after His death.
Almost 2,000 years later, at a small church in Monticello, He held me in His arms as I cried out my confession to Him. His words to me were, “I forgive.”