Convict. Prisoner. Criminal. These labels can make life very difficult for the people who bear them.

If you’ve ever been arrested or imprisoned, or had a family member or close friend who has, take a moment to consider this. Jesus was arrested, wrongly convicted, and sentenced to death by crucifixion, a punishment reserved for the highest crimes. But today, his message of focus and determination prevails.

His story can teach us a lot about how to treat one another in relation to the law.

Near the end of Jesus’ life, many people wanted him dead. He preached a radical message of love and acceptance that threatened the tenuous balance of power. So, the local religious leaders linked Jesus to a violent political uprising and falsely accused him of sedition.

Some people questioned these charges. Even the judge who was supposed to determine Jesus’ fate wanted to pardon him. But the crowd wouldn’t have it. They chanted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” until the judge caved.

Jesus never got a fair trial. Society deemed him a criminal, and they couldn’t see past that label.

If you find yourself condemning someone who’s been arrested, consider the many possibilities. They may have been falsely accused. Their circumstances may have been so dire that breaking the law seemed unavoidable. Perhaps, they were fighting against injustice. Or maybe they committed a crime, did their time, and now need a second chance at life. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt and consider ways to support incarcerated people.

And if you, yourself, are struggling with the law, know that Jesus understood your plight. He walked through the same fear and heartache that you’re experiencing now, and his story brings light to so many people. How can you turn your struggle into a story of hope?

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