Amazing Grace: Brandt Jean Forgives His Brother's Murderer and Gives Us All a Lesson in Grace in the Process

screenshot from video used in story

The recent case of a white Texas police officer who fatally shot and killed her black neighbor – Botham Jean – when she allegedly mistook his apartment for hers ended in a controversial sentencing Wednesday. Amber Guyger was convicted of murder by a jury after just one hour of deliberation. The judge declined to impose the full sentence of 99 years, instead opting to give Guyger a 10 year sentence. She may be eligible for parole after serving half that time.


While that has raised all kinds of ire, what happened next was no only shocking but…well, world-changing.

Botham Jean’s young brother took to the stand to deliver a victim impact statement and took America’s breath away when he did not offer the expected (and understandable) rage and anger, but instead offered Guyger forgiveness.

“I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you.”

“I love you just like anyone else and I’m not going to hope you rot and die,” Brandt Jean told Guyger. “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. Give your life to Christ. I think giving your life to Christ is the best thing Botham would want for you.”

Brandt Jean then exited the witness stand and asked if he could give his brother’s killer a hug. Guyger said yes and broke down in tears as the two embraced.

The greater public has been reacting to the video with a perplexed awe. Those who are familiar with the Christian faith understand what Jean was doing. He did the same thing the victims of the church shooting in Charleston did. He followed the commandments of his faith in the belief that God has something greater in store for us when we hand over our rage and our grievances to Him. Jean said so himself. He offereded Guyger Christ.


I’ve been a Christian for 30 years and I can tell you that this is probably the most stunningly clear example of how to share the Gospel and why we share the Gospel. This is the Grace that changed the world over 2000 years ago, the one it that is so clearly defined in our Good Book. Grace is a revolutionary idea and when applied it changes everything.

Even Jean’s mother said her son’s move changed her.

Jean’s mother, Allison, said at a post-sentencing news conference that while the death of her son “changed my life, changed my family’s life,” she will accept the jury’s decision and try to move on.

She did take a moment to admonish the Dallas Police Department’s handling of the investigation and called for change.

But it wasn’t just Jean’s mother who was changed. Word came from reporters standing outside the hearing that the entire mood of the crowd outside changed upon hearing young Jean’s words.

Life changing grace is what God offers us. I speak about it often. Some might say my “race and grace” commentary is a drumbeat, but really its just a love letter…a love letter to a God whom I know to be faithful, who saved me from my wretched bitterness.

In the Christian tradition in the end, what has saved humanity was not war, not rage, not revenge.  A poor, undernourished carpenter didn’t slay those society said was wicked but instead dined with them, debated with them, served them…loved them. It set a precedent the world had never seen and is still struggling to emulate. What saved humanity was amazing grace.


What young Brandt gave us all today was amazing grace. Let us all do our best to remember the enormity of the task such a young man took on, and let us all endeavor to be more like that.

It will only make us better.


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