The Response that Leads to Justice
If you look at Jesus’ story, it is in response to a discussion with a man steeped in Old Testament law. This man knew what the Torah said. He could quote it. He could teach Sabbath School about this and many other things!
But, it hadn’t yet affected him at his core. How do I know that? Because “he sought to justify himself.” That’s the response of one who has only heard the truth and not been affected by it.
Jesus makes the point that the greatest commandment is to love God with everything and the second is the overflow of the first: we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Or, to unpack part of what that means: do justice.
But there is another profound message here: we will only do justice from a pure (singularly focused) heart when ours has been affected, struck dumb, wowed, and quieted with the love of a just God.
Awakened to Worship
We don’t do justice because it earns God’s love. No. Not that at all. We do justice as a love response to his love. When we see the injustice Jesus absorbed so that we would not get the justice we deserved from our Just God, and by faith we accept that grace, the natural response of a heart awakened to his love is worship…
…worship that manifests itself in the very same joyful sacrifice of the Samaritan.
More about Jesus than the Samaritan
As we look deeper into the story of the Samaritan, we can see Jesus is telling us more about himself than the story of the Samaritan. Jesus is the real definition of a neighbor in our lives. Though our sin leaves us destitute and spiritually dead, Jesus came to us. He spent, not his money, but his entire self on us in order to bring us into his life. The Samaritan risked his life in the wild lands between Jericho and Jerusalem in order to save this unnamed man, but Jesus knew that our salvation would cost him both the beatings of men and also the just wrath of his Father. It wasn’t a risk. “Risk” implies that he might not lose. Jesus knew he would lose. He knew he would suffer a just wrath that was on him rather than on we who created the injustice.
The more I understand those truths, the more my heart is broken to joyful worship. Whole hearted. Sometimes that shows in my life as singing. Sometimes, praying. Sometimes, doing justice..
It is the ones who have been made just by the Justifier of our souls who do justice. The reality of the cost of justice doesn’t drive them away; it emboldens them to look to God for his resurrection power. And, God willing, both the victims and the perpetrators are transformed to be the next worshippers…who do justice.