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Contemporary Comments 2010
Scripture: Romans 5
He supposedly killed nine people (or was it 40) and evaded authorities. But New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is still considering a pardon for a historic figure of the old west— nearly 130 years after the saga began. Why? A dispute still rages about whether he was actually gunned down by Pat Garrett on July 14, 1881. Some say that Garrett didn't actually kill Billy the Kid — he just shot him, leaving the Kid to flee to Texas, where he would die in 1950.
Billy the Kid has become a hero, with movies and songs created around his character. He was shot down by Garrett after escaping from prison in a legendary shootout. In 2003, Richardson supported a plan to reinvestigate the case, and the Associated Press reports he is mulling over a pardon this week. Garrett's descendants clearly aren't happy and said in a statement that a pardon would be a "defamation" of their grandfather.1
Three of the late lawman's grandchildren sent a letter to Richardson this week that asked him not to pardon the outlaw, saying such an act would represent an "inexcusable defamation" of Garrett. "If Billy the Kid was living amongst us now, would you issue a pardon for someone who made his living as a thief and, more egregiously, who killed four law enforcement officers and numerous others?" the Garrett family wrote.
The issue has resurfaced because Richardson asked a New Mexico columnist earlier this year to check with historians to measure their support for issuing a pardon. The governor plans to meet with Garrett family members next week to discuss the issue.
Garrett shot Billy the Kid down on July 14, 1881. Garrett tracked him after the outlaw escaped from the Lincoln County jail in a famous gun battle that left two deputies dead.2
In our lesson this week on Romans 5 we find a lot of terms that relate to this interesting old west tale: death, pardon, grace, blood, wrath, law, and trespass. Garrett’s relatives believe Billy the Kid was a criminal who deserved to die. The truth is, we are all guilty of breaking God’s law and deserve death (see Romans 3:23 and 6:23). Even if Governor Richardson grants a posthumous pardon to Billy, the “Kid” won’t experience any peace. He’s already dead.
The Apostle Paul teaches us that though we are guilty of sin, Jesus Christ died in our place so that we may have pardon through His own shed blood. Our peace comes from being justified through faith in what our Lord did for us. We cannot be forgiven based on some new evidence uncovered 130 years later. We are simply guilty.
Satan is sending letters to heaven saying we can’t be pardoned. We are guilty. Nothing can change that. Our first earthly father (Adam) brought sin on the whole human race, so we all deserve death. But something has changed that. The second Adam (Christ) came and paid the penalty for sin so that we might be pardoned and set free. When we give our lives to Jesus and in a spirit of repentance ask Him to forgive us, the case is closed.