"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace" Ephesians 1:7
Whether in television, movies or the news, we have all seen guilty criminals standing before a judge receiving a just sentence commensurate with their crimes. We have seen people condemned to prison for years, for life and even the death penalty. I can imagine that there are some who, depending on the crime, look upon them with contempt and think, "They got what they deserve."
Now put yourself in the place of that criminal who stands in front of a judge to receive sentencing. Now imagine that judge to be God. And know in your heart that you are guilty as and of sin. The ultimate sentence awaits you as you stand with fear and trembling.
Now imagine Jesus standing beside you as your attorney while Satan, representing your victims, those who witnessed your sins and his own interests, continues to pile on charge after charge. Imagine Jesus requesting a sidebar with God. You overhear him say, "I've already served his/her sentence and you have agreed to free all who accepted my sacrificial serving. He/She has." Then imagine God pounding a mighty gavel of fire, uttering the words, "Case dismissed." Lastly, imagine Satan infuriated as he calls in the next accused.
Beloved, a court case comparison is neither new or unique, but it makes the point well. A verdict of "case dismissed" is the essence and effect of grace and mercy. The Scriptures tell us, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" Ephesians 2:8-9. And mercy is most certainly the withholding of due punishment and consequence. We all deserve the death penalty. But through Christ, we are made free.
We all want justice, particularly if we are victims. But let us always remember that when we sin, however insignificant or confined it may be, we victimize someone else. And in those situations we all would much rather have grace and mercy than justice.