Do we, as people, truly understand justice? We created an image of justice as a blind lady with measuring scales and a sword. We invent heroes like Batman, Superman, and The Punisher. What hero did God send us? Was Jesus like any of these?
Jesus withstood rejection, abuse, insults, and betrayal. When he was wrongfully accused and hung on a cross in the hot sun to die, he offered no resistance. That isn’t at all what Batman would do, or The Punisher, or any other hero we see in our films and comic books. Jesus’ greatest act of Justice wasn’t rebuking the proud or driving out the profiteers, though he certainly did both of those things. It was allowing himself to be beaten and killed even though he’d done nothing wrong. He died in order to give us new life. All of us.
As human beings, we often think that justice is about what’s fair, but is justice always fair? I don’t know. It certainly doesn’t feel fair all the time. Jesus’ death doesn’t appear to have been very fair to him at all. He wasn’t just killed for doing no wrong, he was betrayed, beaten, mocked and whipped; then he was sentenced to die a humiliating, public death on a wooden cross. But it was Justice. It was God’s justice for all of us. Jesus died in our places, so that in his name we could be free from condemnation.
After his resurrection and ascension into heaven, Jesus chose as his special messenger a brutal man named Saul, a man who had mercilessly persecuted the followers of Christ. Was this a fair choice for him to make? I wasn’t there, so I can’t know for certain what people felt about this decision at the time, but I imagine there were more than a few grumbles about the unfairness of it all. Why should this man, who had spent all his resources trying to destroy them, be allowed to walk among them, to carry on his lips and in his heart the name of Jesus? But it was just.
I do not make these points in an attempt to shame anyone, for shame is not a product of the Kingdom of Heaven. Nor do I suggest that we should stop pressing for social justice for those of us not blessed with heteronormacy, I do not think our Lord would either. But in our quest for justice, we should not lose sight of what it’s really about. Jesus never sought to be fair. Sometimes, what’s fair isn’t necessarily just.
If someone steals from us we may feel entitled to steal something in return. If someone strikes us we may feel it only fair to strike them back. If someone maligns us, mocks us, spits on us, do we not feel compelled to retaliate in kind? It’s only fair after all. Give and take. Tit for tat. Eye for an eye.
Love, though, free and unconditional, is the root of true Justice. It is why when our race sinned the first time, God harbored plans in His heart to bring us back again. It’s why he spared Noah and his family from the Great Flood. It’s why he spared Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s why he freed the Israelites from the land of Egypt. And it’s why he sent Jesus to live and die for us. It’s why God has never stopped pursuing us, no matter what we do. We are not always fair to God, but He keeps inviting us back into his arms. He never leaves us or forsakes us. It doesn’t matter what our opponents think of us, because God is with us. In Him we are justified. His Justice will always prevail in our lives, as long as we remember to clothe ourselves in the Love He sends us as our greatest weapon. Love that is equal parts blanket and sword, shield and rock.
When God is for us, who can stand against us? And I promise you, God is definitely for us.