While in God’s courtroom no sin is unforgivable, our worldly justice system does not operate on such terms. Particularly when it comes to an act as violent as murder, it’s hard for us to imagine it being pardonable—especially when the victim was your very own flesh and blood.
But the brother of Botham Jean is showing the world a new way with an unfathomable act of mercy that he displayed for his sibling’s killer, former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger. Botham was fatally shot in 2018 while eating ice cream in his own apartment after Guyger mistook his place for her own and misidentified him as an intruder.
Though Guyger faced a prison term of up to 99 years, she was given a sentence of only 10 years on Wednesday. Many were outraged at the lack of justice for Botham, a 26-year-old accountant from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.
Chants of “no justice, no peace” rang out loudly outside the Dallas courtroom. Thousands bemoaned the gross injustice of such a light sentence for the former cop, as the outcome would likely not be the same if the racial tables were turned.
Chants of “no justice, no peace” outside the Dallas courtroom where Amber Guyger was just sentenced to 10 years for the murder of Botham Jean.
— Syeda Hasan (@syedareports) October 2, 2019
But while the masses lashed out in rage and sorrow, Botham’s brother, Brandt Jean, reacted with a display of grace and compassion that has shocked the nation.
“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,” said the 18-year-old as he took the witness stand.
“I love you just like anyone else and I’m not going to hope you rot and die,” Brandt continued. “I personally want the best for you. I wasn’t going to say this in front of my family, I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want for you.”
With supernatural wisdom and poise, the teen then proposed that the “best” for Guyger would be giving her life to Jesus Christ:
“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.”
As he choked back tears, Brandt then asked presiding Judge Tammy Kemp if he could have permission to hug Guyger.
“I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug, please? Please?” he asked earnestly.
Judge Kemp agreed, and what followed was a living act of the Gospel on display.
With a one-minute embrace, Brandt breathed a lifetime of grace and forgiveness into the woman who murdered his brother.
The hug that rattled onlookers was met with sobs, silence, shock—and most of all, AWE as one grieving brother humbly obeyed God’s command to us all in Luke 6:36.
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Botham and Brandt’s father, Bertrum, admits that while he initially wanted a tougher sentence for Guyger, he’s at peace with the jury’s decision.
“I felt the same way as Brandt. I wish I could’ve extended that same courtesy,” Bertrum told CNN. “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.”
I pray that Brandt’s beautiful display of forgiveness for Guyger acts as an agent of change in the hearts of all those who witnessed it— that they may see it as an extension of the greatest sacrifice ever made for us by a Savior who died so we, too, may be forgiven.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)