The murder of 2 year old James Bulger in Liverpool 1993 shocked the nation. He was abducted from a shopping centre in Bootle and murdered by two 10 year old boys. They were the youngest convicted murderers in modern British history. The two boys were given a custodial sentence until they reached adulthood, initially until the age of 18, and were released on lifelong licence in June 2001.
The recent court appearance of Jon Venables on child pornography charges has brought the horror of little James’s death back into our minds. There are some crimes which are so serious that we struggle to know how to deal with them. We have deep sympathy and compassion for James’s father and mother, who must think about James every day and who long for justice to be done. They believe the boys who killed James have not been adequately punished for the terrible crime they committed.
None of us ultimately escapes the consequences of our sins. We are all accountable to God, “for we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” Our sins are serious and God’s judgement will fair and just. On that day no-one will feel that justice has not been done. His judgement is final, there will be no appeal. This is a deeply solemn reality for us all.
The seriousness of our sins is also seen in the Cross of Jesus Christ. God sent his own dear Son into this world to be the Saviour of sinners. God’s only Son came to pay the price of our sins and to die in our place. We could only be forgiven if God’s justice was satisfied and “there was no other good enough to pay the price of sin, he only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.” Forgiveness has been secured at an awful cost, but the Cross of Jesus offers hope to us all.
On the day Jesus was crucified, two other men were also executed. One man died in bitterness, cursing Jesus, but the other man said to him “don’t you fear God? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”