The king’s summons came at last. My heart rate increased, and my breathing became thin. Armed guards led us towards the large doors. The portals separated and light from the fire braziers inside filled the opening with golden light. We were escorted in.
We’d heard that the king was kind but he was also the judge. We also knew that life outside the palace was hard, and few of us boasted that we had never committed a crime.
But someone had come into the city and told me he could advocate for us if we wanted; he had paid all debts through his own means. It sounded like a good plan—almost too good to be true. Some of those with me said they didn’t believe in the advocate’s promises. But it was my best shot at freedom.
The guards led us into a line before the king’s judgment seat. Many people, brightly dressed officials, soldiers, and white-clad attendants filled the room. The king’s throne was gold, and his robe rich and impressive. I could tell he wore a golden crown, but didn’t dare make eye contact. A bailiff’s voice echoed from somewhere to the left, “Kneel before the King and Judge.”
My knees were trembling, and kneeling was easy. Some others resisted. The guards’ spears thumped the backs of their knees firmly, and they knelt too.
The bailiff’s voice came again, and our names were read aloud followed by a summary of any offenses we had committed. I cringed to hear the list after my name. I felt sweat beading at my hairline.
“All those guilty of crimes, in accordance with the law of the land, are to be taken away.” The voice came from the far side of the room, and was impatient and remorseless.
The king spoke for the first time; his voice was strong and even. “Is there any defense for the accused?”
A few of the prisoners raised their own voices, trying to excuse their actions. I wanted to do the same, but even as they pleaded, I heard the weakness of their whiny excuses. I knew mine would be no different; I just hoped the Advocate was present.
Then, I heard his voice. It came from the right side of the king’s throne, “Some are under my protection.”
I looked up and saw him, now dressed in official robes, but still the plain, honest face I’d seen in the street. My heart lurched again, tripping over a sudden hope.
“I told them I could pay their way, and some have been speaking with me.” The Advocate stepped down from the judgment area and came towards us.
“And you cover them with your credit?” the King asked.
“I do,” replied the Advocate. Passing in front of me he touched my shoulder. “This one.” I felt my back straighten. He continued down the line, gently calling out, “This one… and this one…”
Guards stepped behind me, and I felt their hands grab me under my arms and help me up.
When the Advocate finished he declared. “These accepted my credit, and are free of judgment.”
The king raised his scepter, a token of power, “Let it be so.”
Without further words, the guards surrounded the remaining prisoners and took them from the throne room, despite their pleas and protestations. The Advocate faced us and gestured to our left, the King’s right. “Come, stand in the presence of the King.”
Relief washed over me like a warm bath. I was given clean clothes to change into; I’d never owned such fine things. Under the Advocate’s name, I could stay in the Palace!
Romans 5: 1-2
“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.”