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George Wilson Must Die

Grace Condemnation Pardon

Source: U.S. Supreme Court Case File United States v. Wilson, 32 U.S. 7 Pet. 150 (1833)

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Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2019-05-19

Scripture: John 3:16 ; Colossians 2:14

Author: Illustration Exchange


George Wilson was a career criminal who, in the 1830s, was indicted on six counts of obstructing and robbing the U.S. mail, including threatening a carrier with bodily harm, and violent assault (wounding a carrier).  The violent assault carried a penalty of death. Rising public petition against the death penalty prompted then president, Andrew Jackson, to issue a pardon for the assault conviction. 

Amazingly, Wilson declined the pardon. “And now, to-wit, this 21 October, 1830, the defendant, George Wilson, being in person before the court, was asked by the court … whether he wished in any manner to avail himself of the pardon referred to, and the said defendant answered in person that … he did not wish in any manner to avail himself, in order to avoid sentence in this particular case, of the pardon referred to.”

The district court was not sure how to handle the complexities of the case, and eventually the matter was referred to the U.S. Supreme Court which later ruled that, “A pardon is an act of grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws, which exempts the individual on whom it is bestowed from the punishment the law inflicts for a crime he has committed. … A pardon is a deed to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered, and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him. It may be supposed that no being condemned to death would reject a pardon, but the rule must be the same in capital cases and in misdemeanors.”

Further, Chief Justice John Marshall purportedly pronounced that the value of a pardon “must be determined by the receiver … It has no value apart from that which the receiver gives it . . . therefore, George Wilson must die."  He was subsequently executed for his crime.


Who in their right mind would reject an opportunity to be pardoned? We would assume, as the Supreme Court did, that no person "condemned to death would reject a pardon." Yet, the Bible tells us that "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life' (John 3:16).  

In Christ, God has offered a pardon to everyone of us. Nevertheless, a pardon "has no value apart from that which the receiver gives it."

How many in our world allow day after day to pass without receiving God's pardon? Sadly, George Wilson didn't have to be condemned and neither do you!

God has, "canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14, NLT).


Superstar Mark Wahlberg Seeks Pardon for Past Crimes

Pardon Redemption Transformation

Source: "FIRST ON NECN: Mark Wahlberg Seeks Pardon in 1988 Assault Case" By Alison King on NEW ENGLAND CABLE NEWS, retrieved 12/5/14

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Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-12-09

Author: Alison King for NECN / Illustration Exchange


NEW ENGLAND CABLE NEWS reports that, in an application dated 11/26/2014, movie star Mark Wahlberg (famous for his roles in Planet of the Apes, The Perfect Storm, The Italian Job, and Transformers, to name a few) is seeking a pardon for a 1988 conviction of crimes committed as a young man.

Mark Wahlberg is asking Massachusetts to wipe out his decades-old assault conviction, saying that ever since he served time for a 1988 attack that left another man blind in one eye, he has tried to become a "better person and citizen." …

"I am deeply sorry for the actions that I took on the night of April 8, 1988, as well as for any lasting damage that I may have caused the victims," Wahlberg wrote in his pardon application. "Since that time, I have dedicated myself to becoming a better person and citizen so that I can be a role model to my children and others." ...

In his petition, he outlines the incidents that led to his arrest, saying that he attempted to steal two cases of alcohol from a man who was standing outside of a convenience store … he hit the man on the head with a wooden stick, and … punched another man in the face.

Wahlberg was under the influence of drugs and alcohol and was in possession of drugs at the time of his arrest. Though charged with attempted murder, as well as other crimes, he was convicted of the lesser assault charges and served time in jail.

Since serving his time, Wahlberg has tried to use his fame and fortune to help others. In an effort to explain his motives in turning his life around and seeking the pardon, Wahlberg stated:

"I have not engaged in philanthropic efforts in order to make people forget about my past," added Wahlberg. "To the contrary, I want people to remember my past so that I can serve as an example of how lives can be turned around and how people can be redeemed." …

"The more complex answer is that receiving a pardon would be a formal recognition that I am not the same person that I was on the night of April 8, 1988," Wahlberg concluded. "It would be a formal recognition that someone like me can receive official public redemption if he devotes himself to personal improvement and a life of good works."


It's a wonderful thing that Mr. Wahlberg has repented of his past crimes and has since devoted his life to making a difference in this world. And while this is a beautiful story of worldly redemption, it would be more wonderful still if Mr. Wahlberg were to discover that "public redemption" falls woefully short of the ultimate pardon and redemption that can only come through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on his behalf.

Through the Person of Christ, it is not our good works, but His good works which bring us ultimate pardon and redemption. And while we applaud Mr. Wahlberg's philanthropic efforts and the man he has become today (truly a role model in society!), It is only through the washing and regeneration of the Holy Spirit that we can become truly new

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT).

I'll Pardon the Man Who Shoots You!

Pardon Love (Divine) Retribution

Source: 2500 ANECDOTES FOR ALL OCCASIONS by Edmund Fuller, as quoted on

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Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-05-24

Scripture: 1 John 4:18

Author: Edmund Fuller


"The Comte de Charolais, King Louis XV's cousin, was noted for his eccentricity. Eccentric? Charolais once ordered his coachman to run over any monks they might encounter on the road.  For the sheer pleasure of seeing him fall to earth one day, he shot a man who was busily tiling a roof.
"While pardoning Charolais for the crime, the king added a worrying condition: 'Let it be understood,' he declared, 'that I will similarly pardon anyone who shoots you.'"
*Louis XV, (1710-1774) French monarch, king of France (1715-74) noted for his indecisiveness and court intrigues, and for his legacy of disillusionment and financial instability which led to the French Revolution


This is a pardon with a footnote; this is mercy with the threat of retribution; this is love that fails to assuage fear.

By contrast, the unconditional nature of God's pardon brings joy and peace.

"Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love" (1 John 4:18, NLT).

Man Jailed for Years Waiting for His Father's Pardon

Pardon Jesus, Savior Justice

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-04-24

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:21 ; Isaiah 53:12

Author: Illustration Exchange

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What If God Canceled Us?

Forgiveness Politics God's Love

Contributed By: Neal Pollard | Date Posted: 2021-03-28

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:9 ; Hebrews 7:25

Author: Neal Pollard

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The Devil's Work

Racism Guilt Redemption

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2020-06-06

Scripture: Galatians 3:28 ; Romans 2:11

Author: Mitchell Dillon

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Jesus Saves

Jesus, Savior Redemption Jesus' Sacrifice

Contributed By: Charles Krieg | Date Posted: 2020-02-01

Scripture: Acts 16:31 ; John 3:16

Author: Charles Krieg

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Simon the Leper

Forgiveness Grace Mercy

Contributed By: Thomas Bevers | Date Posted: 2020-01-13

Scripture: Matthew 26:6

Author: Thomas Bevers

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Debt Canceled

Forgiveness Grace Debt

Contributed By: Charles Schuyler | Date Posted: 2019-09-15

Scripture: Romans 6:23 ; Ephesians 2:8

Author: Charles Schuyler

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Garage Sale Redemption

Redemption Sanctification Salvation

Contributed By: William Blosch | Date Posted: 2018-12-29

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:20 ; Romans 6:23

Author: William Blosch

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