This is a real event that I have reported on.
There I stood in a chapel packed out with death row inmates. To the novice this can be very disconcerting. And I admit I still get nervous to this day because any one of them can do harm to you and what does it matter to his sentence of death?
Looking over this unusual congregation I could hardly notice any difference from a normal church service except for the drab uniforms they are required to wear. It was and has been since a blessed event to bring the good news to the last, lost and least which I have been committed to these last 20 years.
As the inmates are dismissed they return to their regular activities such as watching a big screen television with a bowl of popcorn at their side. Or they resume playing fooz-ball or ping-pong while they wait for their craft classes to start.
You will notice that they are all well shaven and fed and have a wonderful fellowship that for most is the best life they have ever had.
Contract this to the dead victims and their families which essentially had no part of the judicial process and no restitution has been made. They are dead or grieving and in many instances falling out of society and away from the God that permitted this dastardly event in their lives.
Now I am all for justice and mercy but something is wrong with this picture.
Numbers 35:30 If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death…..
Capital punishment is meted out for punishment and their life is required as restitution to the life they so wantonly took. They deserve their punishment to the full measure not to have mercy this side of glory.
I once discipled a death row inmate scheduled to be executed and he told me that it was like peeling an onion. He kept taking off layers such as wife, kids, friends, minister, etc and crying until he got down to just him and Jesus. He said, “You know Rick there is really some humor in this execution.” I was aghast at his comment and asked him to explain further. He replied, “They are punishing me by sending me straight into the arms of Jesus!”
For those on death row, this side of glory should be hell itself and the other side mercy in the presence of our Lord.