His name was Judge ‘Send-em-Down’ Jelland. Back in the day, he had a serious reputation amongst the Manchester criminal underworld for being one of the most hard-line Judges. He was 5 feet tall, 60 years old and he was about 17.5 stone. And he always sent people down.
After being on remand in Strangeways Prison for a number of different offenses, I ended up standing before him at Manchester Crown Court, Court Room 1.
Imagine you are sat in the courtroom… I’m stood in the dock and Judge Jelland is sat behind his bench. He tilted his head and looked over his slimline reading glasses balanced on the end of his large nose. He looked at me, while pointing his fat finger and said, ‘Barry Woodward you have been found guilty of the charges brought against you, and for this I sentence you to this sentence **** in prison. Send him down.’
The hammer slapped on the bench, and my heart began to pound as I was taken back to the holding cell. I was eventually I was put in the Sweat Box and taken back to Strangeways to serve my sentence.
Now, let’s use our imaginations… You’re sat in the courtroom, I’m sat in the dock and Judge Jelland is sat at his bench. ‘Barry Woodward,’ he booms, ‘you have been found guilty of the charges brought against you and for this I sentence you…’ Only this time, right at that point the door opens at the back of the courtroom. The hinges squeak, everybody – including you – turns around to look at the door.
There is a moment of silence… and then a guy comes through the door. He walks down the side of courtroom toward the dock where I’m stood. Everybody’s eyes are on him. He comes to the dock and opens the door… looks at me… reaches into his back pocket. He pulls out a £10 note, puts it in my hand. ‘There you go Barry,’ he says. ‘There’s your Taxi fare home, you can go.’
I’d have been out of there like a shot, I can tell you! Besides, it’s only £2.50 to where I lived in Moss Side!
And then Judge Jelland continues, ‘I sentence YOU.’ And he gives this guy the worst ever sentence that can be given – the sentence of death. But the guy stands there and takes it like a man. He’s then taken down and executed.
Does this sound familiar in any way? Well, it might: This is exactly what God did for us. He sent his son the court room of this world to stand in the dock in our place. He took the blame, so we could get off scot-free!!
See, there are faults, flaws, failures in all our lives and we deserve to be judged. So 2000 years ago & 2000 miles away, God sent his son into this world to die on the cross.
He stood in the dock and took the wrap for you!