On the cross Jesus showed justice matters

Free: Roger Stone has had his jail sentence commuted by US President Donald Trump.
Free: Roger Stone has had his jail sentence commuted by US President Donald Trump.

In recent days, Donald Trump has commuted the jail sentence of long-time friend, Roger Stone.

Stone is a former campaign adviser of the president.

He was convicted in a civil court late last year of crimes including obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering.

The decision of the president means that Stone will not serve a single day of the 40-month sentence handed to him for his crimes.

Crimes, which it worth noting, were carried out by Stone in defence of the president during the Mueller enquiry into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

Of course, Trump is a figure who elicits extreme reactions.

Those who love him can admit no wrong in his actions while those who hate him can admit nothing positive.

However we feel personally about Trump it is worth noting that a miscarriage of justice has occurred.

It may be that Stone was stitched up as part of a witch hunt against Trump, as the president claims. Or else he is guilty, as the courts have found, and will face no consequences.

Since the court found Stone guilty we can only assume the latter.

Such examples of injustice rightly stir a passionate response.

If we are tempted to doubt this then we might ask ourselves how we would feel if someone who had wronged us was simply let off the hook. I suspect that most of us would be outraged, and with good reason. Justice matters.

Yet our desire to see justice gets complicated.

After all, when we wrong somebody our strong desire is to receive mercy and forgiveness.

At that moment we hope to be spared the fallout of our actions just as Stone has been spared.

Forgiveness is never cheap. It requires the offended party to bear the cost of the wrong done to them.

When I forgive I am saying that I will not seek retribution or compensation from you.

When I forgive I am saying that I will not seek retribution or compensation from you.

Forgiveness bears the cost of the other person's actions rather than demanding that they pay.

Of course, this makes forgiveness something which is joyous to receive, but often something we cannot bring ourselves to give.

Yet there is one place where justice and mercy come together perfectly. That place is on the cross of Jesus Christ.

At the cross Jesus has shown that justice matters. A perfect and holy God cannot simply turn a blind eye to the wrongs we commit. Justice must be carried out, sin must be punished.

Yet it is in that same moment we see that mercy matters to God. Jesus went to that cross to earn us pardon for our sin. Jesus could not pretend that our sin didn't matter, but he willingly bore the demands of justice so that we can stand before God forgiven.

Nowhere are the demands of justice and mercy both satisfied as they are in Jesus. And for this reason, nothing can transform us as experiencing this divine mercy can. For the experience of God's forgiveness teaches me that same Jesus who died for me, also died for the person who has wronged me.

It is the experience of mercy, won at such great cost to Jesus which will teach us to truly mean it when we pray, as Jesus taught his people to pray, "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us."

A prayer which can only be sincerely prayed once we have understood that God's pardon is not like that of Donald Trump.

Rather this is a pardon earned by the God who is so serious about both justice and mercy that he would step into the world in the man, Jesus Christ, and mercifully bear the cost for us.