Justice, Jesus, and the Kingdom

Christians care about justice because God cares about justice.

 

Psalm 33:5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD.

 

God cares deeply about justice because justice is an expression of God's love. It is not exclusively a legal term or a law word; justice is a love word.

 

Jeremiah 9:24… I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.

 

So this is God's nature. He cares about justice for us, because He loves us. Justice is right in the middle of His lovingkindness and His righteousness.

 

Deuteronomy 10:18 He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.

 

Justice is an expression of God's love, the two are commonly love and linked together.

 

As Christians, we love our neighbor and do justly, for these go hand in hand.

 

Since God loves the poor, the marginalized, and seeks to make things right (justice), so should we.

 

Justice isn't strictly punitive in these verses, it is restorative; i.e., to execute justice for the orphan and widow is to make things right for them, to help them, love them.

 

Justice penalizes the unjust, and it lifts up the oppressed and gives them hope.

 

Proverbs 31:9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

 

Christians also care about justice, because like our heavenly Father, we care about people, families, and communities.

 

We care because Black lives matter, and we lament their long history of injustice.

 

We care about justice because unborn children's lives are being removed from the womb and harvested for parts. If they showed videos of this horrific injustice, we'd all be sick to our stomachs!

 

We care about justice for those suffering domestic abuse, and sex trafficking.

 

We care about justice because the Spirit has poured God's love into our hearts.

 

Yet we contend against injustice differently because of Jesus.

 

The Jews in Jesus' day were a beaten down people. Governed by Rome. Horribly discriminated against. Calls for revolution among the men abounded. False Messiahs arose to rile up the people, calling for resistance, revolution.

 

But not Jesus. Not the true Messiah. Jesus' words were revolutionary in another way. Not populist, His words were quite unpopular, counterintuitive.

 

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted... 5 Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy... 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

 

This doesn't dismiss contending for justice on behalf of others. Christians, where you true injustices, speak out.

 

But, when you suffer, when you're mistreated, and we all are at times, or if you are discriminated against, or harassed for your faith or the color of your skin, and you want justice or a can of whoop-ass, rather than dwell on the injustice that causes grief and rage, Jesus points to the exponential rewards for those who find life-enduring hope and rage-assuaging faith in Him.

 

Jesus told the marginalized and oppressed, however things appear, God is just. When He returns He will make all things new, and your faithfulness to Christ even in suffering will not go unrewarded:

 

Those who mourn shall be comforted. The humble shall rule in the kingdom. Your gentleness and mercy shall be rewarded beyond measure. In the kingdom of God, you shall be called sons of God. You shall inherit the earth, co-rule with Christ. The kingdom of heaven belongs to you. Therefore,

 

Matthew 5:12 Rejoice and be glad [even facing injustices, mistreatment, marginalization], for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

The people of Israel who hoped in God and waited for a Savior were unjustly occupied by Rome, broke and broken, widows and orphans abounded, Jews lived as second class citizens in their own country. So, how do you make sense of Jesus' words,

 

Matthew 5:38 You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." 39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

 

They were besieged by terrible injustices by the ultimate bad cops, Roman soldiers, yet it might surprise us that Jesus didn't say, "Christians resist, protest!" But if an enemy soldier slaps you on the cheek, offer him the other; give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.

 

Jesus spoke cultural blasphemy! It may seem that way today. The proud and angry and self-righteous always hate what Jesus has to say. The proud always despise grace. But the humble find in Christ great wisdom, inspirational beauty and love.

 

Matthew 5:41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.

 

In context, if an Roman soldier forces you to carry his heavy gear one mile, Jesus says, go an extra mile. Jesus flips "no justice no peace" on its ear.

 

If you wish to be comforted rather than offended by Jesus' message, He's saying, God is just, and vengeance belongs to Him so leave that to Him; but you, protect your heart in love. Walk by the Spirit. Don't succumb to hate.

 

Matthew 5:43 You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

 

Christ is calling us to embrace the ideal of agape love, extravagent love. Whether or not we actually practice this ideal just yet, this is God's goal for us in Christ. This is where we're heading!

 

Jesus showed glimpses of the kingdom to come. He freed those possessed by demons. Healed the blind.  He protected a woman before a mob and he gave dignity to lepers.

 

Yet Jesus also surprised many. He befriended a man who became exceedingly rich preying on the poor. He bragged of the faith of a Roman officer in charge of a hundred "bad cops."

 

Jesus didn't reserve the good news of God's acceptance to those who were like Him. While Jesus spoke of justice He offered mercy. He didn't ignore sin, or scream at sinners, He offered forgiveness.

 

When He was unjustly arrested, He healed the ear of an officer cut off by one of His followers. When He was questioned by the highest officer in the land,

 

John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."

 

Instead of resort to violence or revolt, Jesus focused on the future justice when He returns as King.

 

If there's a single word to describe this kingdom to come—it may be justice.

 

The grieving prophet Isaiah wrote of his own hope in Jesus' return as King,

 

Isaiah 42:1 … He will bring forth justice to the nations. 3… He will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth.

 

Again, justice is a love word. This is what's coming. God's justice at Christ's return. On that day, Jesus Christ will make all things right.

 

To the desperate, those who are discriminated against, to every sufferer of injustice—turn your heart to Jesus. Not only your Redeemer, but your King is coming. And true justice comes with Him. On that day, the poor in spirit will inherit the kingdom. Those who grieve will be comforted. And you shall see God and be called sons of God and your reward in heaven will be great.

 

Psalm 146:5 How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, 6 who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; 7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free. 8 The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; the LORD raises up those who are bowed down [He exalts the humble who trust Him; the LORD loves the righteous [those who trust in Him]; 9 the LORD protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, but He thwarts the way of the wicked. 10 The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations.

 

Jesus was patient. He didn't force everyone to act as He did. He didn't reserve His kindness for those who shared His values. He didn't shout-down those who offended Him. He brokered reconciliation, offered forgiveness, and gave His life for us all.

 

Several times, Jesus was asked to take the lead on social justice issue of the day, but He resisted working for a lower good. He stuck to His mission,

 

Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD.

 

Preaching the good news, proclaiming spiritual release from sin's captivity and proclaiming the time of God's favor. All of these anticipate His kingdom.

 

So speak up for the rights of the unfortunate. Defend the rights of the afflicted and needy. And point people to Jesus. Knowing like Him, we primarily achieve justice through preaching the gospel and by treating people justly ourselves. It's what Jesus did.

 

And when He returns in power, He will bring about true justice, restore what is broken and put down all wickedness.

 

Revelation 22:12 Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.