“Somebody has to pay.”
It’s the natural response when someone suffers loss at the hands of another. Justice is the expected cry of the wounded heart.
Last night, I wept, thinking of all that has been lost in my life as the result of actions of another person. Today is Easter. It used to be a joyful time of family celebration when all would gather in a home filled with love for each other – and now it’s a painful time because what it once held has been scattered to the wind. It’s no longer possible for us to gather around the family table enjoying the blessings of the day. Our table and the home in which it sat, have been sold. We see others doing what families do, and remember what we thought life used to be.
It’s not fair. I tried to be the best daughter, wife, mom and grandma I could be. I loved my family more than anyone could ever know. Why have things turned out this way? Why am I alone, struggling to survive, when all my efforts for years, were focused on the betterment of life for everyone around me? Now, out there in places where I can no longer hold them, are broken hearts that I can’t fix. It makes no sense. Aren’t we supposed to reap what we sow?
This morning I went to the Easter service at our church (the Embassy in Oshawa). There was a drama, called “The Choice.”One scene was a portrayal of Christ hanging on the cross, bloodied and bruised, with a crown of thorns jammed on his head. As I sat, alone, watching the actors trying to communicate the reality of what actually happened on that dark and awful day, I thought of the tremendous injustice Jesus could have felt, hanging there surrounded by mockers and misery. It wasn’t fair. He had done the best job He could to communicate God’s plan of salvation to the world. He had done nothing wrong. He was suffering because of the actions of others.
As I sat watching, a deeper revelation of justice began to unfold in my heart. I began to feel a gratitude for being able to understand a tiny measure of what Jesus experienced on my behalf and on behalf of the person who demanded payment for the offense perpetrated against him. I can’t undo any of our circumstances, but Jesus was God. He could have pulled his hands free from the nails, jumped down from that cross, spoken healing over Himself and disappeared through the crowd. But He didn’t. He stayed there until the blood that poured from His wounds gave way to His death and He said, “It is finished.” His life was gone. It was His choice to take the injustices of the world upon Himself.
But it wasn’t fair.
Is God not a God of justice? Doesn’t somebody have to pay for the offenses people commit against each other?
Somebody did pay. With His life.
Nothing on earth can make up for the injustices perpetrated by sin, selfishness and perversion. Nothing can change the painful circumstances of the past. No amount of money can undo a sin committed by someone against a victim. No amount of attention and kindness can erase memories of manipulation and offense. No therapy can activate a magic button in the brain that releases the pain of betrayal.
We can rail against injustices, fill our moments so full that we don’t have to think about the pain, jam ourselves so full of bitterness that it’s impossible for anything else to get inside to hurt us, leave the perpetrators so far behind in our dust that they have no way of ever seeing us again or isolate ourselves from everything connected to the source of our pain – and still the injustice survives.
So – where is justice?
Justice lies in final surrender in a crumpled heap at the foot of the cross, finally realizing that nothing on earth can satisfy the blood lust in our hearts for payment. Our pain is too deep and too wide for anything to fill it. It requires Someone who is able to cover our deep wounds with the blood of Jesus – the price paid for the sin that tried to destroy us.
Amazingly, once we find ourselves at the foot of that cross, admitting our inability to exact justice from the world, God’s justice begins to kick in. He fills our heart with the supernatural forgiveness that brings us relief through real peace and dissolves the walls that keep us from Him.
For Jesus, justice was found in the purpose of God – the purpose that, until He burst forth from the tomb in resurrection life, was totally hidden from the knowledge or understanding of man.
For us, justice will be found in the purposes of God – the purpose that we cannot yet see, but shall be revealed as we continue to keep our eyes on Him and trust that He has a great and wonderful plan.
The glorious destiny of Jesus did not come without great sacrifice and pain. Why should we think ours could be a cakewalk?