He walked up to me, clearly with a question. The rest of the students were all in groups; some were praying, others were sharing scripture. This was, after all, the first meeting of a new afterschool prayer club. But this student left his group and crossed over to me.
“Ms. Nixon?” he started, more a statement than a question. I was pulled away from praying for all the students to focus on this one, a boy who, to put it gently, is making some poor choices.
I honestly didn’t know what he’d do, but my attention was fixed as he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small piece of paper. Its corners were worn, like it had been looked at and folded up a thousand times.
As he pulled it out of his pocket, he began to unfold it. He opened it and I could see words written on it.
He tapped it, drawing my attention to these words as he asked his question.
“Where is this verse?” he asked, without the slightest hint of hesitation.
I looked down at that piece of paper to look for recognizable words and saw them.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
“1 John 2:1-2” I responded, seeing the words I had read to them the week before as I had erased their confessed sins.
He repeated the reference after me to make sure he got it, then turned around and walked back across the room to rejoin his group. As I watched, I saw him speak up.
“I’ve got a favorite verse” he said to his group that was passing the Bible around. I had to turn my attention to another group of students in order to not cry.
Grace is real. Do you realize that fact? You and I will sin today in a thousand ways – some subtle and respectable, some scandalous and blatant. The point is that we look at the love lavished on us and still say “No thank you. I’ll do life my way.” We — I — still sin, even though I no longer am a slave to that sin.
And Christ will never stop being the righteous advocate for us. He will never stop forgiving us. He will never stop being faithful, even when we remain faithless. He will never take back redemption, never rescind the offer of free love.
He — Jesus, the perfect and righteous and mighty One — is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. All of them. Forever.
Oh may I not mock him by pretending like this is not true. May I never limit the gospel for these students. May I never limit grace for myself. May I believe, really believe, that what Jesus did was and forever will be enough.
Righteous One indeed.