It’s a forgiveness not often seen in a courtroom—much less under the circumstances of yesterday’s hearing for the murder of Botham Jean.
Former Dallas police officer, Amber Guyger, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder of Botham Jean, a black man who Guyger wrongfully shot and killed in his own apartment in September 2018.
Botham Jean was killed while eating ice cream in his own apartment, after Guyger, a white woman, mistakenly opened the door to his apartment and mistook him for an intruder.
Following the 31-year-old’s sentencing, Brandt Jean, the younger brother of Botham Jean, addressed the former cop from the witness stand.
But rather than condemning her actions, or wishing ill will upon her for her actions, Jean offered his brother’s murderer forgiveness.
“If you truly are sorry, I can speak for myself, I forgive and I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you,” the 18-year-old told Guyger, adding that he loves her like he loves anyone else — a true demonstration of the First commandment.
“I’m not gonna say I hope you rot and die just like my brother did but I presently want the best for you,” he said to Guyger. “And I wasn’t going to ever say this in front of my family or anyone, but I don’t even want you to go to jail.”
Jean told Guyger that he wants the best for her because that’s what Botham would want.
“And the best would be to give your life to Christ. I’m not going to say anything else. I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you to do. Again I love you as a person and I don’t wish anything bad on you.”
Then, through tears, Jean asked the presiding Judge, Tammy Kemp, if he could hug the woman who murdered his brother.
“I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug, please? Please?”
Their courtroom embrace lasted for nearly a minute and sent shock waves around the country.
Forgiveness like no other
The big point in this whole thing is only something followers of Jesus will really understand. This was the Gospel on display.
The world will hate it, distort it, and want to change it, because things like this — the ability to forgive so freely, someone who does not deserve it — makes no sense to a broken world who, because of sin, hates the One who died for it.
Brandt Jean didn’t speak those words yesterday, the Holy Spirit did.
He didn’t get up and hug the woman that killed his brother, because he, in the flesh couldn’t have possibly done that. It goes against our nature. The Holy Spirit did that.
He couldn’t say those words in front of his family, the Holy Spirit did.
As believers, we know that we are called to forgiveness because through Christ, we are forgiven. He died a brutally unjust death on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins so that we would know forgiveness and show it to others as He demonstrated it to us.
But we are a broken people living in a broken world. Though we are called to forgive, it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can truly do so.
That’s what the world saw on Wednesday.
Brandt’s forgiveness of Amber Guyger is the power of the Holy Spirit at work. And boy, it was breathtaking.
“Again, I’m speaking for myself, not even on behalf of my family, but I love you, just like anyone else,” he told Guyger.
Jean’s father, Bertrum told CNN that while he wishes Guyger’s sentence, which could have been up to 99 years in prison, would have been stiffer, he accepts the jury’s decision.
“I felt the same way as Brandt. I wish I could’ve extended that same courtesy,” he said. “That’s what Christ would want us to do. … If you will not forgive, neither will your Father forgive you. I don’t want to see her rot in hell. I don’t want to see her rot in prison. I hope this will help her to change and recognize the damage, the hurt that our family’s going through. So I wish her well and I will pray for her family and pray for her as well.”
There is a lot more to be said of this hearing in terms of justice and fairness, but my prayer today is that the focus would be on what God did in that courtroom. Because friends, it’s something ONLY Jesus could do, and to Him be the glory.
We serve a fair and just God (Psalm 25:8). For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31)