Thursday, May 1, 2008

Justice and Mercy

A sin against the infinite God is an infinite sin and so deserves an infinite punishment.
- paraphrase of Jonathan Edwards, "The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners"

"The good news is that God Himself has decreed a way to satisfy the demands of His justice without condemning the whole human race. Hell is one way to settle accounts with sinners and uphold His justice. But there is another way. The wisdom of God has ordained a way for the love of God to deliver us from the wrath of God without compromising the justice of God."
- John Piper, Desiring God pg. 61

Going back to my recent post about the movie Les Miserables, there was a picture of the justice of God in the character of Inspector Javer. During the last scene of the movie, the inspector has finally caught his long pursued fugitive/ex-con Valjean. The inspector has however had much opportunity to see that Valjean is a good man. The inspector says two phrases which reveal his motive for his final action in the last scene; "I have tried to live my life without breaking any rules." and "It is a pity that the law does not allow for mercy." This inspector, who has an intense sense of justice (a picture of God's unfailing justice) has only one way to deal correctly in his heart with the ex-con Valjean - because after all the law does not permit mercy.

The final act of the inspector is to me a picture of Jesus saving act for his people. (I will not detail this final act in the hopes that you may see the movie, or that if you've already seen it you may watch it again looking for glimpses of Jesus which are scattered throughout.) The wrath of God remains upon us because "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." God's justice is perfect, appropriate, and final. His justice is equalled in intensity and magnificence only by His mercy. In His merciful love God sent His only son, God in the flesh, to die for our sins - bearing our deserved punishment in order to set us free that we might glorify God and enjoy Him forever.


cgl said...

"I should have perished by his hand, it was his right. It was my right to die as well instead I live but live in hell." This is by far the most powerful part of the entire musical (the musical is significantly better! you should see it). I always saw Javier as a great picture of the law (OT law). How the law brings death and obviously jean val jean as a picture of grace.

Unbreakable Joy said...

Truly a great story about law and grace. I'm looking forward to seeing the musical.