Justice. Oh how we cry out for Justice. The trial of one of the officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray has begun. Another police officer has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Laquan McDonald. The Chicago Police Superintendent has been forced to resign amid newspaper articles suggesting a city-wide cover-up in the teenager’s murder. A madman walked into a Planned Parenthood and shot three people to death, including a police officer who was there to protect others. This past weekend, another officer, who was answering a call to a domestic violence dispute, was shot by one of the people he had been tasked to help. He died at the hospital.
Justice. We all long for justice in this world and we’re willing to look anywhere to find it. We look to the police, to #blacklivesmatter, to the Republicans, to the Democrats, to someone in between. We place our hopes in Presidential candidates and party platforms and activist groups and social structures.
All of them will ultimately fail. None can bring us the justice that we are all longing for. I think we know this, deep down. I think we’re aware that our little saviors can’t bear our weight and will crumble underneath us. But something in us forces us to continue hoping for justice and searching for someone to accomplish the impossible feat of bringing it to bear.
But there is One in whom we can place our hope for justice. There is one who promises justice and has the power to accomplish all that he promises. He is Jesus Christ, the King of Justice.
Isaiah prophecies of this King in the eleventh chapter of the book named after him. He says this:
With righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
Look at some of the ways Isaiah describes the future King. He judges with equity. He is a righteous and therefore trustworthy King. He avenges the oppressed against the wicked. He is a good and righteous King who promises justice and mercy in equal measure. Righteousness itself is the belt of his waist!
More than that, He is a faithful King! Isaiah continues his passage by describing the paradise awaiting all who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of their sins and making Him their Lord.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
This utopian and nearly absurd description of the life to come is a picture of absolute peace, justice, and equity. It is a place where violence and distrust are a distant memory. It is promised to all of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ. And Jesus keeps his promises! He is a faithful King! We can trust that he will bring about the justice that he promises. Where every other promise falls short, His is fulfilled because of his faithfulness, fulfilled beyond what we could imagine.
Archbishop Oscar Romero knew this to be true. When he arrived in El Salvador in the 1970s, the country was ruled by violence. Political assassinations reached into the hundreds with 1979 seeing 580 politically motivated murders in nine months with almost three times as many disappearances. Most of those victimized were the poor and helpless. The cries for justice were loud. Military leaders, political opposition, even alternative forms of government stepped forward and proclaimed themselves potential saviors who would bring people the justice they desperately needed. Yet Archbishop Romero stood firm and exhorted the people of El Salvador to “show that the fight for justice is for the justice of the Reign of God, not any other justice.” (emphasis mine)
Go ahead and support the #blacklivesmatter movement. I do. Vote in the upcoming elections. I plan to. Pray for the police. Pray for firm yet compassionate officers who are driven by a desire to protect and serve. And pray for their safety as they daily put their lives on the line to protect innocent people. I will. Speak out against police brutality and for stricter oversight. We must.
But don’t forget that our hope, our peace, our justice is found nowhere else than in the Reign of God – the Kingdom of God – and is found in no one else than in the King himself, Jesus Christ. We serve and worship a King who has come and is coming again. This past Sunday, we Christians entered into the liturgical season of advent. During this season we anticipate his return, longing for the second coming, that time when injustice will give way to justice, when violence will give way to peace, and when despair will give way joy.
Today I ask you, stop searching for hope and justice in anyone or anything other than the King of Justice, Jesus Christ. Rest in him and find the peace you have been longing for.
This post is a modified portion of a sermon I gave recently. To hear the whole sermon, click here.