I’m not much of a crime show, podcast, law and order kind of gal. I am fairly sure I might be the exception in that regard though. I do like a documentary and recently I ran across a crime docu-series slash drama-mentary, or two and the same word occurred in both and caught my attention.
One, because I had never heard the word before and I like a new word. I will typically make a note, I have a running list of new words.
Two, because I had no idea what the new word meant and thought I might like to know. Perhaps it would add to my overall understanding of the documentaries I’d been watching.
And three, something told me I’d want to come back to that word and ponder on it a bit.
The word, exculpatory, in the context of the show, was in relation to evidence. Back in the day if I’d’ve wanted to know what that word meant I’d’ve had to wait until I could find myself a World Book Encyclopedia, or an Encyclopedia Britannica. The latter was my least favorite of the two as it seemed antiquated, with yellowed thin pages, fewer illustrations, and it was generally bulkier and heavier. The World Book was sleek and streamlined with gold lettering, a snazzy index, colorful illustrations and photographs. I tended to prefer it’s overall organization. Also, it seemed to weigh just slightly less despite its thick and substantial page quality. Yet now we are living the Age of Information and have volumes more information at the end of our fingertips. So courtesy of my backlit handheld device which incidentally has more computer capabilities than it took to take man to the moon, I set to searching.
A quick internet search revealed that exculpatory evidence is evidence favorable to the defendant in a criminal trial that exonerates or tends to exonerate the defendant of guilt. It is the opposite of inculpatory evidence, which tends to present guilt.
In the cases that I had watched, in both instances, the exculpatory evidence had been withheld presumably resulting in unmerited incarceration.
As I pondered not on the guilt or innocence of the documentary subject matter, the perhaps wrongly convicted persons languishing in the penal system, my mind meandered to my own guilt.
The guilt of sin, the very thing that separates us from God, condemns me to death. There is nothing I can do to exonerate myself, to declare I am innocent for that would be a lie, an untruth, and would condemn me further. Yet because of my King and the salvation He has provided, He became Exculpatory Evidence on my behalf. He has absolved my sin and annihilated the sentence of death. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, His death on a cross, He has become my sin and I have taken on His righteousness. In the cases I was watching, the Prosecution allegedly withheld the exculpatory evidence, and it struck me how freely Jesus gave of Himself to set this captive free and to exonerate this guilty party of her sin and pending death, evidence of the grace and mercy that are the very definition of Christ Himself and Salvation He offers.