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Who Will the President Pardon?

In the final days of the George W. Bush administration 2,300 convicted felons have applied for presidential clemency (a reduction of sentence) or pardon (the forgiveness of a conviction and suspension of legal penalty).

According to an article on ABC News, a long list of hopefuls are waiting to see if the president will grant their request prior to his last day in office.

I raise the issue not to engage in a political discussion, but rather because many believe that the reputation that Jesus has for offering pardons to the worst of offenders is the ultimate scandal.

Jesus’ habit of befriending sinners was one of the things that turned religious leaders against him. Yet when they whispered “blasphemy” after hearing him offer spiritual pardon, he dramatically healed a man who had been so physically impaired that friends had to carry him to Jesus (Luke 5:18-24).

Although Jesus healed and forgave people others loved to hate, one thing he did not do was to orchestrate the kind of prison breaks that would have violated social legal process. Instead it was Pilate, a governor, who decided to release a murderer and political insurrectionist by the name of Barabbas, just before washing his hands of Jesus and caving into the mob’s cries for a Roman style crucifixion (Mark 15:7).

So even though much of the world will be watching to see who President Bush may or may not “forgive”, a far greater drama will continue to play out all around us. The real story is still who among us will wake up to the realization of what it means for “the worst” among us to have access to a forgiveness granted, not as a political favor, or on the basis of a constitutional power, but on the basis of the suffering he endured, and the death he died– for us.

Why would he do it? Witnesses heard him say something to the effect that those who’ve been forgiven of a lot, love a lot, but those who don’t think they’ve been forgiven of much don’t love much (Luke 7:47).

As for me? My sins have not been few. If I was in my “right mind” the grateful celebration of my pardon would never end.

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22 Responses to “Who Will the President Pardon?”

  1. pegramsdell says:

    Jesus not only forgave (pardoned) me, but He took my place. He died for me, so that I could have life and have it more abundantly. I have been forgiven much and I love Him so much. I agree that dancing in the streets is applicable.

  2. BruceC says:

    Political pardons are for one particular crime or crimes committed in the past by the offender. I am so very grateful to God that the pardon of my Lord Jesus Christ is different! He bore my sins and died, and shed His percious blood to wash away my sins– past, present, and future! And this great pardon is one that all can “apply” for and need; and one that will not be turned down if we are open and truthful.

  3. Motorcycleminister says:

    As the scripture says, Jesus forgave me and died for my sins. The word “pardon” is used 16 times in the KJV and 4 times in the NIV. All the references are only in the Old Testament. Very interesting study of the word “pardon”. We may be pardoned for our sins but one who commits a violent crime should not be pardoned physically and let loose in our society unless they are “completely” habilated. To be pardoned spiritually is one of the greatest gifts we can accept. During my 8 years of prison ministry I have learned to “pardon” these criminals on a spiritual level. Many have told me they are not ready to be pardoned and be set free in our society because they probably would commit another crime. God knows the ones who need pardonning and I pray thet the president and the powers to be seek God’s guidance in who is to be set free on our streets. Isaiah 55:7 states; “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” With God’s Love, Barry.

  4. SFDBWV says:

    This is a good topic. Politicaly I have no knowledge nor imput as to who Bush may or may not pardon. So thankfuly I have no comment there.

    However the discussion about Jesus’s grace can be quite exhaustive.

    I want to say that only God knows the heart of an individual. Only God knows wether or not the heart is truly repentant. Only God can forgive at the spiritual level. Though we can forgive someone at a very personal level.

    We tend to place sin in a ranking of worse to less. But does God see sin as anything other than sin?

    When any person gives over their life to Christ, They change, they are born again a new spirit. That old sinner, (though still a sinner in the sense that we can “DO” nothing except trust Christ to forgive us), is no longer quilty of past sins. Which is why we need to be renewed each day.

    Paul counted himself the worst of all sinners, Why? Was it because he held the coats of the mob as they stoned Stephen to death? And he agreed it was the right thing to do,in his heart and mind?
    Or was it because he hunted down and helped imprison Christians, all the while thinking he was doing God a service?

    Which of us is not guilty of sin?

    I have read that it is just a terrible sin to continue sinning once we have the Holy Spirit and his leading in us. Yet still we can do nothing but trust Christ will forgive us for each time we slip and fall.

    I can say with assurance that I don’t care who Christ forgives, but am very concerned about who he doesn’t.

  5. macsisson22 says:

    Not only pardoned but put as far as the east is from the west. I agree we should dance like David, but more importantly we should be able to forgive our debtors and ourselves. This is the hard part, at least to do it as Christ has done for us. I give lip-service to forgiveness yet it seems that I cannot forget some of the things others have inflicted on me, and it seems at times that Satan’s cohorts have an inventory of all of my past offenses and use them regularly to weigh me down. My serpent in the garden wispers, Has God really said,”You’re Forgiven”? Surely if you were truely forgiven you wouls be able to forgive and forget the adultry, lies, insults, rape, theft, incest,….

  6. poohpity says:

    I have been forgiven so much but I still suffer the consequences of those sins. I have trouble holding myself and others, especially fellow believers, to a high standard when it comes to forgiveness. I have so much trouble when we are not at a constant self examination state yet we are so quick to judge someone else.

    I have been pardoned and I do not mind if someone else is pardoned but what about the consequences of those sins. Sin always involves someone else. What about the harm caused to others, speaking of the presidential pardon where is the consequences to their wrong.

  7. SFDBWV says:

    The prison pardon aspect of this topic has raised a memory in me and I find it very thought provocing.

    I can’t remember the woman’s name but she was one of Charles Manson’s girls. She was given a life sentence for her part in the Tate, LaBianca murders.
    Each year she comes before the parole board and begs for release from prison. She seems to be a sincere “born again” believer and her prison record is perfect. Yet each year surviving members of the Tate family make an appeal to the parole board and are present at the hearing. In order to make certain that she is never “pardoned”.

    Who here is living for Christ?

    I feel bad for every person in this story. This woman who didn’t even actualy kill anyone has had her life ruined by an act early in her life.

    The Tate family, lost a daughter or sister and her unborn baby to a horrific murder. And so won’t let go of the pain and hate that was created by this one act.

    Wow, what a freeing power repentence and forgiveness could be in this one story. Could be.

  8. rokdude5 says:

    Let us remember that Jesus pardon a criminal as they all were dying on their crosses. In my last year of my career, I worked in a state prison. There are a lot of criminals in there that play the game of being a Christian and there are a lot of them who are truly repentent and remorseful.

    I saw very few churches come by and visit them and pray for them yet this is what Jesus wants us to do. Forgiving our enemies is not the easiet thing to do.

  9. wretch-like-me says:

    WOW! So many thoughts…so many rabbits to chase! My best advice is not be distracted or deceived. Paul’s statement regarding the worst of sinners echos Christ’s when He remarked the last shall be first and vice versa. We are warned not to think too highly of ourselves. In light of that, let us remember that Christ has the power to see into our hearts and know our motives for ‘repentance’ or ‘forgiveness’. The Sword is ‘double-edged’ and cuts both ways. Likewise, be aware that ‘forgiveness’ of sin may restore us to a healthy relationship with Christ but, very often DOES NOT change the earthly consequences we must endure. I thank God that HE AND HE ALONE has the power to judge a sinner. I confess that I wrestle with the emotional struggle of forgiving those who deeply offend or wound me…But, that doesn’t keep me from trying to live out my FAITH thru OBEDIENCE to God’s Word. One final comment. I have faced the possibility of prison and in the final moments was spared. Before that ‘pardon’ came I had committed to God that whatever the outcome I would be HIS SERVANT in prison or where ever He chose. Speaking of prison ministry, wouldnt this nation (and the world) be a better place if Christians took on the responsibility of running prisons. I have heard of at least one such successful ministry…has anyone else?

  10. witness2031 says:

    To add to what roduke5 said, of the few groups that do regular prison ministry, most – not all – seem to want to be able to count the number of “saved Souls” they have brought about and are not interested in talking to anyone who doesn’t ask them to “save” them or have already been saved. I know that seems a damning and judgmental statement but it was a true observation while I was incarcerated.
    I have also found that there is very little follow-up with the prison ministry once the prisoner is released into society. As needful as it is to bring the message of salvation to those in prison, proper follow-up and Christian sponsorship of released prisoners is even more important. Otherwise most go back to what is familiar – their old neighborhoods and friends. The warnings of Peter (1Peter 4:1-11) are foreboding but very accurate. The surest way for a released prisoner to re-enter the prison system is to go back into the life from which he just escaped. A new Christian is not strong enough in faith or knowledge of God to resist the temptations of family members and friends in the environment where he first fell. Forgiveness is not lip service but must be accompanied by actions to teach and guide the sinner. Without action the sinner is most likely to become disillusioned and lost.

  11. daisymarygoldr says:

    It must be borne in mind that God did not simply do away with our sins. On the cross Jesus paid the full penalty for the sins of the whole world. This is different from the President’s pardon where he is not required to take up the punishment on behalf of the pardoned criminal…

    Human forgiveness certainly pales in comparison to divine Forgiveness which is not about less/ more sins or small/big sins. The forgiveness of God is solely contingent on ‘repentance’ of sins and ‘restoration’ of the sinner through His son Jesus Christ. So, Christian or non-Christian, whether it is a religious leader in his righteousness or the hardcore criminal with his ugly sin, the unrepentant soul will never get to enjoy the forgiving grace of God.

    Yes, it does give us every reason to celebrate our ‘freedom’ from serving the penalty of sin. However, it also fills us with a grateful sense of responsible obligation to avoid repeatedly crucifying Christ by committing those same pardoned sins over and over again. We must remember that by grace, God does provide us with salvation from eternal death but this pardon does not guarantee us salvation from the consequences of willfully committed sins.

    Although David was a man after God’s own heart, he was not spared of the consequence of his sins. With this perspective, my constant prayerful plea to God is… “Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.” (Ps 19:13)

  12. drkennyg says:

    I did not accept Jesus until late in my life. I am truly grateful that God’s plan was to give His only begotten Son and that Jesus did die on the cross – faithful to His Father to the end. I believe He pardoned all who believe in Him and the Resurrection. I did become a new person when I was born again and my whole life and mission has changed. I feel I and many others are walking on that narrow road with Christ toward everlasting life with Him in heaven.

  13. SFDBWV says:

    1 Corinthians 13:
    1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels,and have not LOVE, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
    2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries,and all knowledge,and though I have all faith,so that I could remove mountains,and have not LOVE, I am nothing.

    These words begin to describe the attitude I should have toward my fellow man.

    Jesus was a 30 year old man we are told when he began his public ministry. John says the world could not contain all the things he did and said in the 3 short years that followed. Yet we have a testimony from various witnesses that create the foundation of our faith.

    Isaiah 58, tells us of the acceptable fast.

    I could go on quoting verse after verse, but they all point toward our attitude toward each other.

    God loves us enough to do whatever it takes to “win” us back to him. Including becoming a man, feeling all the pain and suffering of this world and then becoming sin for an undeserving world and be sacrificedfor it. For us all.

    We are told to follow Christ. If we truly do, we adopt his attitude of sacrifice and service to an underservig world.

    This isn’t just about being able to quote scripture, but is all about us, we, you and I loving people who don’t deserve it. Forgiveness, Pardoning, healing the relationship. Whatever it takes to win back a brother, friend or whomever.

    And perhaps in the doing of it all, we may just show another the way to eternal forgiveness.

  14. SFDBWV says:

    Just re reading everything.

    No wonder Jesus was upset with the religious men of his day. They had all the education to know all the words found in the “BOOK”. But they lacked compassion and love for others. They were white washed tombs,instead of living temples of God.

    There are a lot of you people out here in this blog who have love for others, I love reading the compassion you share for others pain. I not only can read your comments but also sense your personality as it comes out through your confessions and comments.

    Honest, revealing and cleansing.

    Thank you to all for brightening my day.

  15. poohpity says:

    I have had so many thoughts of judgment that I still hold against my family while going through this cancer thing it is unreal. There are so many areas of forgiveness I still need to work on and in the mean time I am pushing people away and not loving them as the Lord would have me. I am brought to my knees and humbled how anger and malice still hold me. This process is hard but having to confront issues I still have to deal with is promoting growth within my soul and heart. Gosh I have so much to learn and forgive but it is so much easier to look at others faults.

    You know no matter if someone is pardoned by the president those people still have to live with themselves and I believe the feelings of guilt will offer no pardon. I say this because although I have the Lord’s forgiveness it seems the hardest person for me to forgive is me.

  16. Mart De Haan says:

    I appreciate so much the thoughtfulness, transparency, and shared celebration of these comments.

  17. daisymarygoldr says:

    SFDBWV, thank you for pointing out the need for love (in caps)! And you concluded it correctly about showing others the ways to eternal forgiveness. Here is what it means for me to follow Christ:

    Jesus loves the sinner and hates their sins. The brief 3 and half years He spent on Earth, Jesus went about loving, healing, feeding and showing compassion while standing firm for Truth. He perfectly loved the sinner and at the same time testified His hatred against their evil works.

    Today we, His followers are also called to love the sinner and hate sin. Now, refusing to sin or condemning sin should not be misunderstood as hating the sinner. But guess what? We will be hated…even by our own “brothers and sisters” because Jesus was hated and even His own brothers did not believe in Him. In fact, every one of them deserted Him as He painfully made His lonely trek to the cross. They hated Him for His truth and that’s why they killed Him.

    What then does it mean to love others? Love the truth and have mercy on the lost. Tell them to stay away from the fire…it is bad…it will burn and it will kill. True love will never sit in the sidelines watching others remaining stuck in their sin. True love will mercifully snatch the soul from the fire and save them while hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

    Although we disapprove the sinful lifestyle and will be considered as enemies because we speak the truth, true Christ-like love will faithfully witness the loving forgiveness available in Jesus Christ. So, tell me if I am wrong and I will change the definition of love (in caps). And BTW, if you could quote Mahatma Gandhi, why are you critical of those who quote their Heavenly Father?

  18. poohpity says:

    rdrcomp, that was a great read thank you for pointing it out. I needed that today.

    As far as pointing out others peoples faults it is very shaky ground. I believe that the bible says that those who are spiritual gently guide other believers back to that saving grace. I believe that when we are able to closely look at our own sins and who we are compared to Christ we become less critical of others and not so quick to condemn (spiritual). I at times hold others to high expectations when it comes to their walk with God but through the Holy Spirit I have been convicted of the sins that offend the Lord and one specifically is judgment of believers. I can not and will not be someone else’s Holy Spirit, if it were up to me, like I said before I usually mess everything up. One of the proverbs says a gentle answer will turn away wrath, I am going to try and practice this this week.

  19. plumbape says:

    Who amoung us will wake up to the realization of what it means that the “worst” amoung us have access to the forgiveness granted by what Jesus the Christ did for us……? Not exactly as Mart wrote it, but still an interesting question that I’m not sure everyone addressed exactly. The most important issue in life as I understand it is finding a relationship with God and then making sure the worst amoung us have access to the same God that I have found such delight in.

    It’s worth noting that the politician in the Bible “Pilate” was more interested in pleasing the croud by setting free a convicted murderer rather than risk his career with the increasingly unpopular Jesus, who even he had to admit Jesus had not commited a crime against the State. Fast forward two thousand years and the President has to consider the awful mess of giving his past coworkers a play for taking some of the weight off him when things that he surly knew about went bad. The hard part as I understand it is how to grant a pardon for them without implicating that they commited a crime, lol. I have a tendancy to look at things radically I guess. I know there are brothers and sisters in the joint who are seeking pardon with some actual remorse and repentance in there heart and ones that are no doubt like Barabbas who are hoping to take advantage of the end of the President’s time in office.
    Fortunately most pardons would reduce the sentence from being executed to life. There is a church here in Indy that proclaims on the sign “Sinners Welcome” what a novel concept.
    God bless you all & goodnight

  20. poohpity says:


    I in the best of humor cracked up when you wrote in the joint, I wonder if many understand that kind of terminology LOL. Only those who have experienced much forgiveness LOL.

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