I just typed “jury” instead of “July”. Many years ago I had to do Jury Service at the Old Bailey in London. I don’t remember a great deal about the trials (I was on two separate cases, each lasting a few days) except that they were serious charges and that all the circumstances around the alleged crimes were depressing: the background seemed to be a history of poverty, abuse and addiction. It’s a scary responsibility having to pronounce a verdict of “guilty” or “not guilty” on someone, especially when that may imply a long prison sentence. You are all too aware of miscarriages of justice, the potential unreliability of witnesses and the fact that none of us is innocent, as well as the need for justice to be done and victims to be protected. But the jury’s role is strictly limited to deciding, on the basis of the evidence, whether the accused did actually commit the particular crime with which they are charged, not to pronounce on whether they are in general a good, bad or “guilty” person.
Whatever specific crimes we personally may or may not have committed, not forgetting the many good deeds that we have all omitted to do, we all fall far short of the holiness of God. We all fail to live up to our potential for good, as well as doing many things which we know to be wrong. We are “guilty”.
God doesn’t pretend that we are not guilty, nor that it somehow doesn’t matter, nor that we are simply victims of our upbringing or not really responsible for our decisions. The only “not guilty” person is Jesus, but He doesn’t come to point a finger at our failures. Instead He voluntarily steps into the dock (as it were) in our place and takes the sentence due to us, allowing us to go free, forgiven. “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That’s God’s love and justice combined.