"Broadchurch" and Human Sinfulness

I have a confession...I like BBC TV shows. Most recently, I watched the first season of "Broadchurch," a drama focusing on two small-town detectives, Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller, who are investigating the murder of a pre-teen boy. While there is quite a bit about the show I cannot recommend, there is a fascinating scene in an early episode where Hardy and Miller are discussing the list of potential suspects. The list includes basically everyone in the tight-knit seaside village. However, the very idea that the killer is someone they know and trust seems impossible to Miller. In the middle of their conversation comes this theological gem:

Hardy: You need to understand, Miller. Anybody's capable of this murder given the right circumstances.

Miller: Most people have a moral compass.

Hardy: Compasses break.

Each episode for the rest of the season explores this idea as the murder investigation uncovers secret sin after secret sin among the seemingly innocent townspeople of Broadchurch. The point is clear: people are not what they appear to be, and deep within the heart of everyone lies a potential murderer.

I would like to think it's because Alec Hardy is Scottish that he states the doctrine of total depravity so pithily. At our core, we aren't good people. Our moral compasses are broken, with the result that everyone does what is right in their own eyes (Judg 21:25). We may not be as bad as we could possibly be (for example, physically murdering someone), but given the right circumstances, we're far more capable of sin than we care to admit. We're not innocent, and though we may try to cover it up or excuse it away, deep down we know the truth about ourselves. We have fallen short of God's perfect standard (Rom 3:23).

That's why we need Jesus. Though God's investigation finds us guilty as charged, Jesus stands in our place, taking our guilt and shame on himself and bearing the punishment we deserve. All our sins, even the secret ones, are washed away so that we can stand spotless in the sight of God.

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa 53:6).

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