His name was Ernesto Miranda. He was the kind of young man who had been in trouble for most of his life. He had been in and out of the juvenile courts in his home state of Arizona for more than a decade. He had a long record that included convictions for armed robbery, assault, burglary, and attempted rape. Police believed he was a predator. He was arrested on March 13, 1963, and charged with the theft of $8 from a Phoenix resident who worked in a bank. Police questioned him for two hours and bluffed Miranda, suggesting that a woman who had been assaulted 11 days earlier had picked him out of a line up. He signed a written confession, resulting in a sentence of 20 to 30 years for kidnapping and rape of the 18 year old mildly mentally retarded young woman.
His lawyers attempted to get the conviction overturned, arguing that Miranda had never been informed of his constitutional rights. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and in a 5 to 4 decision the court agreed, and the conviction was overturned on June 13, 1966. Miranda was eventually tried a second time, convicted of the crime, went to prison, and served almost 10 years in prison. He was paroled in December of 1972.
On January 31, 1976, Miranda got into a fight in a tavern in Phoenix over a $3 bet. He was stabbed to death after he went to the bathroom to get the blood off of his hands. Police arrested a suspect who chose to exercise his "Miranda rights" and was released. Ernesto Miranda was 34 years old.
When you think about it, in a weird and ironic sort of way, this story is not unlike the sacrifice of Christ. The courts convicted him unjustly. He died and those who killed him went free. He was convicted, yet those who were guilty went unpunished. There was blood on his hands from his own battle at the Cross. A spear pierced his side.
I'm not suggesting Miranda was a hero; quite the opposite. But the result of his tragic life was freedom for the man responsible for his death. And that's the connection, except that Jesus paid that price willingly. He paid it knowing that what we needed was mercy instead of justice. He chose to die so that we didn't have to. That's a decision that even the Supreme Court can't overturn.
But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins — that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave. But it was the LORD's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD's plan will prosper in his hands. (Isaiah 53:5-10 NLT)