A Question of Justice—The Heart of Christianity

A Question of Justice—The Heart of Christianity

The recent focus on the institution called ‘the Church’  – what with it’s national attention through the Royal Commission, Pell conviction and more recently the hot gospelling mega churches preaching for “Scotty”, I consider rightly, argues it is about justice. Read on…

This excerpt is  from the third chapter of Fleming Rutledge’s award-winning book The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ.


Oh villain! Thou art condemned into everlasting redemption.—Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing

Why crucifixion? That is the question we are asking. Why was this singularly horrific mode of death chosen by the triune God to demonstrate his love for his human creatures? Could it not have been some other sort of death?

The constable Dogberry’s ignorant slip of the tongue in Shakespeare’s play is meant to bring a laugh, but in fact it makes the point precisely. The condemnation of Jesus means redemption for the world, and by extension God’s condemnation of the sin of his people is part of his redemptive purpose. Isaiah says this clearly: “destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness” (Isa. 10:22).

The cross of Christ is the place where we see most clearly the relationship between judgment (condemnation, destruction) and the righteousness of God (experienced both as judgment and as redemption). The Greek word for God’s righteousness is dikaiosyne, also translated “justice.”

The all-important connection between the method used to execute Jesus and the meaning of his death cannot be grasped unless we plumb the depths of what is meant by injustice.

The all-important connection between the method used to execute Jesus and the meaning of his death cannot be grasped unless we plumb the depths of what is meant by injustice. There is much irony here, for injustice is a threatening subject for the ruling classes who have the time and inclination for reading books like this one. Those who suffer most from injustice are the poorly educated, the impoverished, the invisible. Justice is involved with law and judges; the people most likely to suffer injustice cannot afford good lawyers, do not even know any lawyers, whereas lawyers and judges are the ones who have the money to buy books.

This puts an extra burden on the privileged reader, but such challenges are not unrelated to Jesus’ teaching that the one who does not take up his cross and follow him is not worthy of him (Matt. 10:38). Trying to understand someone else’s predicament lies at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian.

 

Stephen Hall
Stephen Hall
Lives in Perth, Western Australia.

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