TODAY’S READING: PROVERBS 21-23
“When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.”
Jesus is just. He came to make the world just, to bring justice to the world. This means that he came to bring the world into conformity the character of God. Jesus’ most significant act, the beginning of his rule, of justice was the cross. This was when he truly began to make the world right. Indeed, God was reconciling the world to himself through Jesus on the cross.
The justice of Jesus, this setting the world right and reconciling it to the character of God, is a joy to the righteous. But, Jesus’ justice is terror to evildoers.
Why is Jesus’ justice a terror to evildoers?
It’s not because Jesus is bringing justice like we are accustomed to through our legal by punishing evildoers. First John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Fear and punishing are linked, but there is no fear in love. And, Jesus and God are love.
Yet, even without punishing evildoers, Jesus’ justice is a terror to evildoers. Proverbs 21:7 says, “The violence of the wicked will sweep them away, because they refuse to do what is just.” Evildoers refuse to do what is just. They refuse Jesus’ reconciliation. Evildoers refuse to take on the character of God, which is to love. So, instead of loving, particularly their enemies, evildoers refuse to do what is just and do violence instead. And, it is their own violence that sweeps them away. This, their own violence, is the terror that evildoers face.
So, for those that are righteous, those that are being reconciled to God, justice is a joy. But, for those that are evildoers, refusing to be reconciled to God, refusing the justice of God, their own violence sweeps them away, which makes justice a terror to them.