Refusing The Pardon

“Back in 1830, a man by the name of George Wilson was convicted of robbing the U.S. Mail and was sentenced to be hanged. President Andrew Jackson issued a pardon for Wilson, but he refused to accept it. The matter went to Chief Justice Marshall, who concluded that Wilson would have to be executed. ‘A pardon is a slip of paper,’ wrote Marshall, ‘the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged’” (

Who in their right mind would refuse such a pardon? Perhaps the answer is found within the question. There are times when people just aren’t thinking clearly enough to make the correct decision.

In Acts 2, Peter preached a sermon to some of the same people who yelled for Jesus to go to the cross. When Peter made it clear that the person they sent to the cross was none other than the prophesied Messiah, they were understandably upset and frantic for a pardon (vs. 36-37). In an incredible act of mercy, God offered forgiveness to those who would “repent and be baptized” (38). On this day, thousands accepted God’s pardon (vs 41). Sadly, many others refused it.

Today, this same offer stands for us. Not only can we receive forgiveness at baptism (Mark 16:15-16; 1 Peter 3:21), but we can receive a pardon for the sins we commit after becoming Christians (2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 2:5). Why would we ever choose to reject such a loving offer?

The question is, right now, are you accepting or refusing God’s pardon?

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