Kingdom Come: Justice/Mercy

Kingdom Come: Justice/Mercy

We now continue our message series, “Kingdom Come” where we learn what God’s Kingdom is like and how we bring it here on the earth.
Luke 17:20-21
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is:
in your midst – NIV
within you – KJV
within you and among you and surrounding you – AMP
The intersection of where the Kingdom of Heaven meets earth is right here at the tip of our toes.
This week, we’re learning how the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of justice and a kingdom of mercy.  These two attributes seem contradictory, however, God balances this paradox perfectly.
Justice is essentially getting what we deserve.  God has defined very clearly His standards for living by His law. He is also clear that we all have broken His righteous law and are all, therefore, deserving of hell.
Mercy is essentially getting what we do not deserve.  We deserve hell, but we receive a full pardon.  We are forgiven and receive perfect righteousness.  We deserve death, but are given life.  More than all of this, we are adopted into the family of God and freely given a rich inheritance.  We become children of the greatest father that will ever exist!
How can God administer both justice and mercy simultaneously?  That answer is actually quite easy, it is Jesus.  Jesus lived an absolute sinless life, He followed the law perfectly and knew no sin.  The penalty that we owed for our sin was paid by Jesus who was completely innocent, yet took on our guilt and punishment.  Through simple faith in Jesus, evidenced by our lives, we receive mercy.  Jesus took our justice and gave us mercy.  Thus to us, God is simultaneously just and merciful.
Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Isaiah 53:4-5
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

This reality results in an often frustrating paradox for us now, though.  Since God is both just and merciful, He is an equal opportunity God.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God patiently waits for all mankind to turn to Him and to turn away from their evil thoughts and ways to a right way of thinking and seeing things.

Have you ever encountered a person who is so mean and evil in their ways?  They’re always lying, cheating, and stealing, yet they seem to be exempt from the pains of life?  They do what is wrong and they prosper.  Yet, we do what is right and can never seem to get ahead?

Asaph felt this same way; getting fairly frustrated in life.

Psalm 73:1-17
1 Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
5 They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.
11 They say, “How would God know?
Does the Most High know anything?”
12 This is what the wicked are like—
always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
and every morning brings new punishments.
15 If I had spoken out like that,
I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.

God is just.  Justice will be administered.  God is merciful.  All who repent and call on Jesus will be forgiven.

The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of justice.  Since God is just, there will be a time of accountability for how we lived our lives.  Therefore, we would all be wise to live with this end always in mind.  This keeps our hearts and attitudes right toward wicked people who always seem to prosper.  Instead of jealousy, we will have compassion.  Instead of frustration, we will have empathy.

Jesus gave several parables to teach us this one point so that we would gain a healthy and thorough understanding about this matter within the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 13:24-29
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.

Later on, the disciples of Jesus asked Him to explain this parable:

36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

Jesus made this matter very clear.  Both evil people as well as Kingdom people will have equal opportunity to grow in this world.  Yes, this means that often those who do evil prosper more from a worldly perspective than those who are integral and do good.  However, that is only in this world.  In the end, justice will be administered and all will be set straight.

With this in mind, it should be our continuous goal to lead people to Christ through compassion so that they may also gain this understanding and realize that eternity far outweighs the extremely temporary things of this world!  God’s justice can be ours to pay for ourselves or Christ’s which has already been paid.  Blessing and curses, life and death, justice and mercy are all our choice in life.

Jesus then gave another reminder of this truth:

Matthew 13:47-52
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

This morning, I believe that Jesus is also asking each one of us that same question, “Have you understood all these things?”. Do we really understand the reality in which we live?  Do we have the compassion and urgency to reach those weeds and bad fish with the transforming message of the gospel?  God patiently awaits everyone to repent, or change their way of thinking, about life.  He wants us to take our eyes off of these meaningless and temporary things of this world and to fix them on eternity.  This will set our hearts and attitudes right as members of God’s Kingdom.  Compassion instead of jealousy, empathy instead of frustration.