The electronic billboard on the side of the expressway said it all: “Tom Brady. A Class Act. Vindicated.” Richard M. Berman, a Senior United States federal judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, decided that the process of appeal relating to TB12’s involvement with “Deflate-gate” was unfair. Judge Berman vacated the suspension and all seems right with the world. The Patriots were able to begin their season with their future Hall of Fame quarterback at the helm last night and all this messiness can remain in the past…except that it cannot. Almost immediately after Judge Berman’s ruling was released, the NFL exercised their right and appealed to a higher court. The specter of under-inflated footballs and broken cell phones will haunt the halls of Gillette Stadium for some time to come.
The appeals process is a safeguard in our system of jurisprudence. It is fair to assume that human logic is imperfect, at best; it is subject to biases, misinterpretations and misapplications. That is why the cases against the convicted criminals like Boston marathon bomber and James “Whitey” Bulger are still on the dockets and in the newspapers. Because nobody’s perfect, our society is blessed with organizations like “The Innocence Project”, who file appeals for death-row inmates after discovering new evidence through previously unattainable forensics or interviews.
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7
Last Sunday I had the opportunity to preach on Paul’s prayer to the church in Thessalonica found in 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12. One of the points I raised in the message was that we can, through prayer, express our joy in God’s judgment. What I mean by this is that God is just, and perfectly so. He is not given to bias (He shows no favoritism), misinterpretation (everything He does is right) or misapplication (in Him there is no falsehood). He is not subject to appeal because He is never wrong. We can take delight in knowing that the guilty will be appropriately punished and the innocent will be appropriately vindicated.
It can be both comforting and disconcerting to know that God’s justice is perfect. It is comforting to know that I will never be convicted of a crime in the courts of Heaven that I did not commit. It is disconcerting to know that there will be divine retribution for every infraction of His law that I did commit. This disconcertment is immediately alleviated by the fullness of the Gospel – God is perfectly just – someone must endure that appropriate punishment and penalty for every violation of God’s commands – and Christ willingly sacrificed himself for sinners (lawbreakers like you and me) and satisfied the demands of God’s perfect judgment. God’s justice is perfect and perfectly paid for through Jesus.
So, like Tom Brady, those that trust in God as the perfect judge and Christ as the perfect substitute for sinners are fully vindicated. We all can rejoice that justice will be done and praise the Lord for securing it through His death on the cross.