Between 1999 and 2015, over 900 British subpostmasters and subpostmistresses were prosecuted for stealing money from the Post Office. It turned out that they were innocent, and the problem was due to faults in the Post Office’s computer software. By the time the miscarriage of justice was acknowledged, many had been jailed, many had suffered bankruptcy, family break-up and ruined health, and there had been at least four suicides.
Although the full story has been known for some time, it has only recently caught the public’s attention due to a TV dramatization, and the British government is scrambling to react to the scandal.
No computer system is guaranteed fault-free, and the Post Office’s system certainly wasn’t. But innocent people were blamed for its errors and held responsible for large sums of money. There were blatant lies, cover-ups, reluctance to provide the facts, and officials protecting their own reputations: all resulting in hundreds of ruined lives. It is difficult to see how any good came out of it – except for promises that lessons have now been learnt, and such a thing should not happen again.
Two thousand years ago a sinless man was condemned to torture and execution. There were lies, corruption, false evidence, officials concerned only about their own positions and reputations, and nobody was prepared to defend a totally innocent man.
The enormous difference is that unspeakably good things did come as a result. While the individuals concerned acted in an evil way, God was giving His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Jesus Christ’s life, death and subsequent resurrection are the means, and the only means, by which we can be saved from eternal death.
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
A ‘great multitude that no one could number’ will be given eternal life in God’s kingdom.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10).
We are all sinners. We all disobey God. But this man was prepared to suffer and die to wipe this out.
He did not deserve that suffering. We do not deserve the outcome.
Journalists have commented that, despite their reports, it took a drama to bring the Post Office scandal to the forefront of the public attention. The Bible has been around for many hundreds of years. What would it take to bring the saving work of Jesus to the forefront of our attention?