On December 21, 1988 Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, including all of the passengers and 11 people on the ground. It was a remarkably long time until authorities arrested their suspect, Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Basset al-Megrahi. When finally jailed on Jan 31st, 2001, Mr Megrahi received a sentence of only 27 years, not nearly long enough for Americans (the predominate nationality of the passengers) who were/are used to sentences of 60, 80 and 180 years without parole for crimes like murder and rape. It seemed cruelly insufficient for the largest terrorist attack against Americans before September 11th.

The outcry against the sentence grew until nations began to impose their own sentences against Libya, e.g. sanctions from the United Nations and United States. Libya was able to satisfy their portion of their criminal debt by offering $10 million to each victim’s family in return for the lifting of the sanctions and the removal of Libya from the U.S.’s list of foreign states sponsoring terrorism. With these conditions met, yet still Mr. Megrahi remained in jail proclaiming his innocence! (Another piece of the puzzle: Megrahi was tried along with a fellow Libyan who was not found guilty, and he has maintained his innocence throughout his entire jail term.)

Today, much to the horror of President Obama and the families of the victims, Mr. Megrahi was released on “Compassionate Grounds”. Megrahi apparently has prostate cancer, and he was freed from the Scotland jail that was holding him so that he could spend the last three months of his life under house arrest in Libya. (See the video of the press conference -very good!)
Today, grace sides with the Scottish Justice Secretary’s decision to free Mr. Megrahi and proclaims that retribution is a false hope. A jail sentence that expires upon death will not restore the world to pre-Lockerbie conditions. Furthermore, upon Mr. Megrahi’s death, the victims’ families will still wonder if Mr. Megrahi actually committed the crime. Will their hearts really be quieted upon his death? While the victims’ families proclaim that justice has not been paid and that Mr Megrahi has not suffered enough to annul their pain, grace says that retribution is always insufficient and it will never really restore their hearts to their previous condition. Grace and compassion are the opposite of retribution. Grace believes that we all live in a place of receiving mercy from God and that the only truly sufficient payment was made on Calvary, for the sins of the world.