The Hug That Changed The World

A few days ago, I watched one of the most deeply moving acts of forgiveness that I have ever seen.

For those who don’t yet know, Amber Guyger, a former police officer, was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for fatally shooting Botham Jean after allegedly mistaking his apartment for her own.

After her judgement was handed down, Brandt Jean, brother of Botham Jean, took to the stand. Instead of declaring judgement upon her, Jean decided to proclaim the gospel, and announce that he forgave Guyger.

If you haven’t yet watched the clip, I highly suggest you click here to view it.

Speaking directly to her, Brandt Jean said, “I forgive you and I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you. I love you just like anyone else. I personally want the best for you. I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you do to.”

Then, Jean took his sincere act of forgiveness to the next level, asking the judge, “I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug please? Please?” The judge allowed it, and the two embraced as sobbing was heard throughout the courtroom.

After this touching act of forgiveness, the presiding judge, Tammy Kemp, also approached Guyger. She handed Guyger her personal Bible asking her to keep and read it. Judge Kemp said, “This is the one I use every day. This is your job for the next month. It says right here. John 3:16. And this is where you start. ‘For God so loved the world…’”

Does this not put a lump in your throat?  I couldn’t help but think that our divided world needs more of this.

Was Guyger found guilty by the jury? Yes. Did she deserve punishment? Yes. But rather than receiving condemnation from Brandt Jean, she received only grace.

Seeing this kind of love, I couldn’t help but think, “If I were Brandt Jean, would I be able to do the same thing? Would I be able to forgive my brothers killer?”

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commands us to love our enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

The reason Christ commands us to love our enemies is because while we were still God’s enemies, Christ gave up his life for us. Since we are all guilty before God, we deserve righteous judgement. But Christ gave himself up for us that we may be shown grace. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).

We saw a miracle right before our eyes on Wednesday. Only a heart transformed by the love of Christ could show the kind of grace that Brandt Jean did in that courtroom.

In a world as divided and hate filled as ours, may God help us love our enemies, just like Brandt Jean did. The call of the Gospel asks this of us.

If you watched this moving video, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments section below.

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Jim Daly

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