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Where Grace and Justice Meet

During our Lenten services, we have been singing a song called “The Cross was Meant for Me.”[1] This song that does a great job of setting the tone for Lent. It reminds us that the suffering that Christ went through on Good Friday was actually the punishment that you and I deserve for our sin against God.

One line of the chorus explains that the cross was “where all grace and justice finally meet.” That line beautifully summarizes the Gospel, so it is important for us to understand what it means.

Let’s start by defining the word “justice.” Justice refers to the right punishment of crime. For example, if someone murders another person, we want justice to be served. We want to see them punished severely for the crime they committed. Often the death penalty is the right punishment for the crime (Genesis 9:6). In our society, we want to trust that criminals will get what they have coming. The right punishment of crime helps keep our society stable and safe. Justice protects those who obey the law. We should celebrate justice!

We should celebrate, but we should also shake in fear. You see, justice comes from God. He is perfectly just. It is one of His attributes. God has given us laws, and He demands that they be obeyed perfectly. Because He is just, He rightly punishes people when they disobey His commands. Here is the scary part. You have not obeyed God’s commands. You have rebelled against His authority. You are guilty, and you deserve to be rightly punished. According to our perfectly just God, the punishment you deserve is hell, the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). We are hopelessly lost.

But there is hope. God is perfectly just, but He is also perfectly gracious. Grace can be defined as “unmerited favor”.[2] God loves us and acts for our benefit even though we don’t deserve it. It’s important to understand that God’s grace does not cancel out His justice. God doesn’t change. In all He does, He is both perfectly just and perfectly gracious.

So how can God be just and show us grace at the same time? The answer is the cross of Jesus. It is at the cross “where all grace and justice finally meet.” As Jesus hung on the cross, He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27: 46). Why did He say that? We often focus on how Jesus was beaten and how He had nails pounded into His hands and feet to hang Him on the cross. We think about the terrible physical suffering that he went through for us. But Jesus suffered something much worse. He suffered the rejection of His Father. As Jesus was on the cross, all of the sin of everyone who has ever lived or will ever live was placed on Him. It was like Jesus was guilty of all of our sin, so God the Father turned His back on Him.

That was God’s justice! As Jesus died on the cross, He suffered the punishment and rejection of God that you and I deserve. That was also God’s grace! It was grace because God punished and rejected His Son, Jesus, in your place. It was grace because Jesus took away your sin and gave you His perfection. That is why God forgives our sins as we trust in Christ. That is why God accepts us and will bring us home to live forever with Him someday.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 [3]

[1] “The Cross was Meant for Me” by Jennie Lee Riddle, Travis Ryan and Brandon Collins © 2014 Integrity Worship Music | Integrity’s Praise! Music | Travis Ryan Music | Memory House Music [2] Mueller, John Theodore. 1934. Christian Dogmatics. p. 243. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House. [3] All Scripture references from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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