What’s Love (and Justice) Got to do with It?

Why did you get so mad? The judge said the kid was a victim of “affluenza” – too much money and not enough parental discipline.  Sure, he killed four people and injured two others.  Sure, he was driving drunk. Sure it wasn’t his first offence.   But, hey, it’s not his fault because he was too wealthy to know better, right?  No jail time; just a residential treatment facility for the very privileged few…

What makes this outrageous is that justice was not served.  We are wired to seek justice.  Justice is good; injustice makes us deeply cranky.  Animals don’t seem to care about justice.  But humans have been designed by God to reflect His being.  You already know God is love.  But God is also Just.   Consider what He told Moses:

And he [God] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.   Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished;…”  (Exodus 34:6-7a)

How can God be loving and forgiving, if He also must not leave the guilty unpunished?  Like a good parent, that’s how.   But these statements about God’s character become more puzzling when we consider that His justice is perfect.  Perfect  justice must equate punishment with the impact and consequence of the offence.  Pure justice demands a death penalty for causing  death.  Since sin causes spiritual death (God told Adam that on the day he disobeyed he would die), the just penalty for sin must be death.  Here’s the riddle:  How can God forgive us and love us, if first He has to kill us, to fulfill justice?

The solution to this riddle remained a mystery until 700 B.C., when Isaiah revealed how God would accomplish it.  He would send His “Son” to undergo the penalty required by perfect justice on our behalf.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  (Isaiah 53:5)

Jesus gave His life to pay our penalty.  He became the Solution to the riddle of God’s love and justice.  He went “all the way” to rescue us.  John explained that Jesus “came by water” (He identified with us in baptism) and “by blood” (He paid in death so that we could be reconciled with God).

I realize that this explanation may not fully satisfy.  We understand it somewhat, but wrestle with the idea of someone dying in our place.  If that describes how you feel, look back at “All the Way – Part 2” for more on that…

4 thoughts on “What’s Love (and Justice) Got to do with It?

  1. civilanonymity

    Great post.

    It is crazy to think that many people will never consider that a secular worldview, a naturalistic world view cannot account for this outrage. Roman 1 tells us that we know God’s righteous decree but that we suppress these things in unrighteousness. How humbling/terrifying to know that the same God who poured out His wrath on His Son for those who would believe will also deal with those who pervert justice with eternal torment. Justice perfect justice will be actualized. Let us pray for those who do us wrong!

    Grace and Peace

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