At The Cross: Justice For Jesus
Justice doesn’t mend the heart. It can’t save the soul. Only victory can do that.
(This is Part 2 of a two-part message.)
Jesus hung on the cross, the pain indescribable, his body coming apart.
The end was near.
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matthew 27:46 NIV)
Have you ever wondered why Jesus would utter such a thing?
Could God really forsake his own son?
Did Jesus really believe that God had turned his back on him, leaving him there on the cross, alone? Without hope?
Jesus was quoting the 22nd Psalm when he spoke those words. Some believe he did this as confirmation of prophecy, to demonstrate that he was indeed the Messiah, and that God was not actually forsaking him. (See verse 24.)
But, others believe that in that moment Jesus truly did feel forsaken. They, too, see the Psalm as prophetic: Jesus bore the sins of the world, and because God is holy he had to turn his back on him.
We may not know for sure until we get to heaven. What we do know is that Jesus didn’t deserve the punishment he was given.
He came to save the world and the world condemned him. He spoke truth and in return got contempt. He loved and in return was hated.
He was falsely accused. He was betrayed by one friend and abandoned by even more. He was publicly humiliated, savagely beaten and sentenced to death without a fair trial. The people he had come to save devised the cruelest execution they could think of and then carried it out.
And, at the end Jesus cried out that even his own father had forsaken him.
All of this and he had done not one thing wrong. How unconscionable!
An innocent lamb led to the slaughter.
Where was the justice for Jesus? If ever there was justification for God to destroy the world, this was it.
I think about my own need for justice. In my life, there have been times when I was humiliated, times when I felt betrayed by someone I love, times when I was cheated out of what was due me, times when I had my rights trampled upon and nothing done about it.
Where is my justice?
But, when I meditate on what Jesus did for me—my bitterness, my need to point the finger of blame, my need to have my day in court, my need to have it made right— all of this seems so incredibly unimportant.
And then I think of the justice that I truly deserve, the penalty I should have to pay for my own transgressions.
In our cries for justice, it’s so easy to overlook our own guilt. The truth is that I am a sinner. Like everyone else, there are things in my past that I truly regret. Many things.
I am so grateful that God does not demand justice of me. The wage of sin is death and that debt must be paid. But, I don’t have to pay it. None of us do.
That’s because Jesus did. Jesus paid it all.
Our God is a just God who does pass judgment, but he is also a merciful God. Thank you, Heavenly Father, that you sent your one and only son to die for us. Thank you for doing this while we were still sinners. How indescribably hard it must have been for you to sacrifice your son. How much you must love us!
I often wonder how it must have been to witness Jesus’ crucifixion. I imagine being there and seeing his face.
Had you been there and caught his gaze, what do you suppose you would have seen in his eyes?
Shock? Fear? Anger?
Though he had been beaten beyond recognition, I believe you would have recognized something quite clearly in his eyes: Love.
I believe his eyes would have said, “I’d do it all over again if that’s what it took to save you. You’re worth it.”
Jesus never got justice; but that was never the reason for his coming. He got something better: Victory. Jesus got victory over death.
Justice doesn’t mend the heart. It can’t save the soul. Only victory can do that. Thank you, Jesus, for securing that victory at the cross.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
I implore you to claim and proclaim that victory today!