Justice and Mercy

“Justice is blind,” or so they say, though it seems a bit more of a noble ideal rather than a verified reality. 

Around the steps of many courthouses throughout the world is placed a statue of a woman, one who strongly resembles the Statue of Liberty; Lady Justice is her name. She is draped in the robes of justice, with a scale resting upon her lap, or held in her hand. Oddly enough, included in her garb is a blindfold wrapped snuggly around her head. The implicit message is that she rules, or weighs her decisions based upon the Law, based upon the merits of the case. The blindfold suggests a perfect level of impartiality, the ability, and dedication to adjudicate regardless of the person being tried – without regard to power, or money, or fame, or other world status. But, is objectivity even possible? 

The whole idea of impartiality seems logical, and right, but in a world full of opinionated souls, how could this even be done? We place a blindfold upon her, then hand her the Rule of Law, and a set of lenses…Democrat, Republican, Independent, Liberal, Conservative, Originalist (original intent) vs. er, well, um…non-originalism, Capitalistic, or otherwise. Yes, we give them a viewpoint, a pair of lenses to wear over their blindfold to help them have a framework with which to understand the foundations upon which we want them to judge.  We do it in the Court of Law, and we do it in our own “households” as well.

Even at the baseball field, we find ourselves victims of our own biases…”He was safe!” cries the home team; “He was out by a mile,” demand the visitors. Half of the crowd saw the “clear” verdict through the set of lenses they walked in with, in contrast to the other half which got the “whole thing wrong!” And, “The ump was blinder than a bat!”

It appears this divide is no better illustrated than in the political climate today. We see our side as innocent angels and claim the other side to be immoral criminals. In our homes, we back our members, the guilty offender as the innocent, or we don’t even see any actions as infractions; we whitewash them. Even within ourselves we condemn any opposing viewpoints and exonerate our own. Yes, when it comes down to justice or mercy, we likely demand justice for others, and mercy for ourselves, because “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviour” (McCovey).

When we don’t get the verdict we demanded, we cry for sentencing upon the judge himself. “‘Kill him! Kill the umpire!’ shouted someone on the stand, and it’s likely they’d have killed him, had not Casey raised his hand” (Casey at the Bat). So, Casey had that going for him.

One more thing…Lady Justice is depicted with a sword in her hand, denoting the ability to execute justice swiftly, efficiently and permanently! Authority is a good thing, but the idea of a woman, a blind-folded woman, wearing glasses and dispensing judgment wielding a terrible swift sword is somewhat unnerving.

Here’s my point…Lady Justice is not real; she is a myth which represents the corporate heart of mankind, errant and flawed, warts and all. She represents a noble ideal rather than a verified reality. I pray for God’s divine wisdom for all those in the legal arena. God help you guys!

And I thank God, that when it comes to things eternal, judgment in the afterlife, I have a Judge who sees without bias. Comeuppance will be doled out! There will be a reckoning! Yet, to those who have placed their faith in the work of Christ, there will be grace. But wait, what about those who like me are guilty as sin? Will justice have been mocked if I receive grace? Will justice have been winked at? In no way! As I stand before the throne of God He will find me innocent and justified, not of my own merits, but because I stand drenched in the blood of Christ which absolves me from the eternal consequence of my guilt. Though my sins be as scarlet, He has washed me white as snow.

“Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.”

You see, justice was meted out upon Christ, upon the Cross: “He [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Justice was executed in Christ in order that I could be declared, and indeed, made innocent – redeemed!

Let the gavel drop. 

And thanks be to God for this indescribable gift of grace!

The Cloak of Righteousness

One of the most theologically packed verses in all of Scripture finds itself in 2 Corinthians 5:21 which reads:
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

It is in this verse we see the answer to Genesis 3:15-the Lord addressing Satan, “He shall bruise you on the head,  And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

It is in this verse we see the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:6:
“All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.”

It is in this verse that we see the words of John the Baptist echoing forth…”Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

And it is the work described in this verse for which we thank Christ for His obedience. For it is in this verse we see the work that separates those who once were doomed to death, given the opportunity for new life with God.

In this short verse we see what God has done by the work of Christ for our benefit.

Volumes could be written until the end of time about what is called the atonement…what was performed by Christ in order to bring us to a right standing before God, which was unable to be perfected through any other means. Christ was the agency of obedience. He was the object of the wrath of God. He is the reason we could possibly approach a pure and holy, sovereign God in restored relationship.

In the Levitical order, as a penitent soul was desiring to be “absolved” of his sin, he would bring a bull or a sheep or a goat, maybe a bird to the priest at the Temple. Hands would be laid upon the head of the animal in a gesture that “communicated” all of the sin of that penitent to be placed upon that “innocent” offering. The animal would then be slain upon the altar, at times by the penitent himself (Leviticus 1:1-5), for as Hebrews tells us, “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). This animal had borne the wrath of sin in order to place this repentant individual right before God.

The Levitical system then is a foreshadow of the work to eventually be executed in Christ. The altar would be the Cross upon Golgotha…Calvary. The Lamb of God perfect, pure, undefiled would have all of the sin of the world placed upon Him. The murders. The adulteries. The hatred. The gossip. The slander. The lack of forgiveness. All of the sin of the world, from the beginning of time to the end. The burden of Christ was exquisite. Who could bear it?

Only the Messiah for which He was sent.

Some of His last words upon the Cross are “My God, My God, what have you forsaken me?”

The wrath of sin was borne for sin. My sin. Your sin. In order that our broken relationship might be restored with our great Creator.

The Lamb of God shed His blood that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The mantle of sin which rested upon us was removed at the Cross. We are not righteous by any other means other than because we are now cloaked on the righteousness of Christ. God so loves us that He wrapped us up in the precious righteousness of Christ.

For those of us who are truly in Him, God looks not upon our sin, but upon the righteousness of Christ.

Behold! The Lamb of God!

Still Evangelical

Words come. Words go. It appears words migrate through a life-span of sorts. Some begin as an idiom, a slang and then gradually morph into one of greater understanding, ending up in a word museum of antiquity somewhere in Anhedonia (Can you say…Corset? Fortran? Britches, dungarees, or davenport?). Some we have no clear idea from where they come.  Others take on an initial meaning and then evolve into one representing something altogether different from that first proposed (cool, or boss)…I believe the term “evangelical” is one such term which has been hijacked, modified, contorted, and consequently is slotted by some to be relegated to word oblivion. Continue reading “Still Evangelical”

The Great Exchange

What comes to mind when you think of the greatest deal of all time? Do you think of the Louisiana Purchase? How about your biggest sales deal? Perhaps it is a sports trade.  Or maybe it’s the ultimate scheist you pulled off in grade school. Well, let me give you one that you may want to consider as one of the best. God offers up eternal life to anybody who believes on his Son Jesus Christ. Let that sink in. God offers eternal life to anybody who believes on his Son Jesus Christ. That means God invites everybody to enjoy fellowship with Him. Murderers, thieves, rapists, politicians, criminals and sinners of all kinds, and yes, even church-going people.

Now you have to admit that is a pretty good deal. When was the last time you got something for nothing? Certainly something of this magnitude is noteworthy as there is nothing we could do to earn this gift anyway. What in the world could we have to offer to cover all of our transgressions? We do know that for us to be brought into a right relationship with God the Father, righteousness needs to be involved. Continue reading “The Great Exchange”