Where Human Justice Cannot Tread: The Case of Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman

July 15, 2013 at 5:15 am 2 comments


Martin Zimmerman

Credit: The Associated Press

We will never know for sure what happened.

Well, we will never know for sure all that happened.  There are a few things we do know.  We do know that on the night of February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida, an altercation took place between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.  We do know that this altercation left Trayvon Martin dead of a single gunshot wound, fired at intermediate range.  We do know that George Zimmerman was the shooter.  And we do know that on Saturday, July 13, Zimmerman was found “not guilty” of both the charges of second-degree murder and of manslaughter.

As the trial of George Zimmerman unfolded before a nation of breathless spectators, it became clear to many pundits and reporters – regardless of how these pundits and reporters hoped this case would turn out – that the prosecution was in trouble.  Consider this from ABC News:

Prosecutors started strong with a powerful, concise opening statement from Assistant State Attorney John Guy, in contrast to the silly knock-knock joke and seemingly disorganized and meandering defense argument …

But then something happened that many would have thought improbable as this case received wall to wall coverage leading up to Zimmerman’s arrest.

What the state hoped would be proof that Zimmerman initiated the altercation and that he, not Martin, was on top as they grappled on the ground, did not appear to proceed as planned …

With each witness there were either facts that we now know are not true (like hearing three shots, when there was only one) or indications that their memories have somehow become clearer since the incident itself.[1]

The prosecution’s witnesses, in their testimonies of what happened that night, gave conflicting and confusing accounts.  Coupled with the fact that the burden to prove that Zimmerman shot Martin in something other than self-defense rested on the prosecution, the prospects for a conviction were grim for the state.  Again, ABC News summarized the prosecution’s problem well:

Prosecutors still have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman did not “reasonably believe” he was “in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm” during their altercation. That is a heavy burden to bear.

It turns out, as the verdict this past Saturday revealed, that it was a burden too heavy to bear.

Along with the wide range of human emotions that a trial such as this one elicits, this trial has also exposed the limits of human justice.  The jury found George Zimmerman “not guilty.”  This does not necessarily mean that Zimmerman committed no crime.  It simply means that, in the opinions of the jurors, there was not enough evidence to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of a crime.  The jurors’ verdict does not pretend or presume to rule on George Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence as a matter of fact.  It simply says that Zimmerman will not be incarcerated as a matter of the law.

The justice of our God is much more comprehensive and, as strange as it sounds, just than the justice of our courts.  For our God is concerned with infinite transcendent justice rather than with limited legal justice.  Indeed, our God is passionate about justice.  God shouts in Amos 5:24:  “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”  Where human justice falls short, God’s justice does not.

Ultimately, regardless of the verdict, the justice rendered in that Florida courtroom can only be provisionary and incomplete.  Even if George Zimmerman had been found guilty, his incarceration would not have undone the painful problem of death, which is finally what this case – and every murder case – is all about.  But the painful problem of death cannot be solved in any courtroom; it can only be solved on a cross.  Only Jesus can bring justice to death by conquering it with His life – a life that will finally and fully be revealed on the Last Day.

So while a Florida court has ruled, we are still waiting for Jesus to rule – or, to put it more clearly, to reign – when He returns on the Last Day.  And, blessedly, the justice He will bring on that day will be far better than the justice we have in these days.  For His justice does much more than merely rule on tragedies; His justice fixes them.


[1] Dan Abrams, “George Zimmerman’s Prosecution Woes: Analysis,” ABC News (7.1.2013).

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Righteous Oh, Those Good Ole Days

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Luke Timm  |  July 16, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Well done, Zach.

    Reply
  • 2. Jim young  |  July 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Awesome ! Thanks!!

    Reply

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