Jesus’ Answer to “where is justice?!”

We often ask or hear someone ask “where is justice!?” It is both a question and an angry taunt to the glaring injustices around us. And often there is an echo of helplessness to the question.
A friend of mine recently asked me what would an ideal justice system look like. I don’t know.

But I think Jesus was responding to this sort of frustration about justice undelivered when he said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…” (Luke 6:27)

Jesus of course, of all people, knew how it was like to be bullied and to be aggrieved without recourse. He was after all a child out of wedlock, a poor peasant living under colonial rule and was teaching against mainstream religious system. Only a few chapters ago, Luke said some people was trying to throw him off a cliff! (Luke 4:29)

Despite the injustice done to him, Jesus taught his disciples to,

“bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.
If someone takes your coat, give them your shirt.
If someone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back” (Luke 6:28-30)

Now the Jews have elaborated system of justice springing from the Old Testament laws on how one should deal with god and the others. The basic idea is the Mosaic principle “an eye for an eye” (Leviticus 24:19-20, Deuteronomy 19:21). This was hammered deep into the Jewish justice system although apparently, now as was then, we know that not everyone gets their dues. The poor and powerless are often at the receiving end of injustice.

The tendency to respond violent with violent and hatred with hatred is understandable. But Jesus insist that there is another way – end the vicious cycle of angry revenge when it comes to us. Jesus was essentially saying, swallow up our ego and pride, take on evil by confronting it and exhausting its power by not passing it on. Justice is a good thing, but evil and injustice work through our lust for selfish justice, the kind of justice where the only concern is whether we get our dues. Justice is a bigger thing, it’s really about how we treat others, not so much about how others treat us. Which is why Jesus said to his disciples, “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). So really, by not reacting to an evil done to us with evil but rather with love, we are indeed practising justice, the radical justice of Jesus. Maybe that’s how an ideal justice system would look like, everyone is concerned with whether they treat others lovingly or not.

Just as Jesus assured the common folks who made up the bulk of his listening audience about god’s special preference for the poor (Luke 6:20–22), he reminded them of their part of the obligation. They are to embody the ways of their heavenly Father who is merciful and loving (Luke 6:35-36).


About stevensim

Posted on August 13, 2011, in Bible, Christianity, Ethics, Religion, Theology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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