The Cross: God’s restorative justice on display

Luke23_34_Father_Forgive_ThemI mentioned last time that when we look through the lenses of love, we see God’s justice as redemptive and restorative, rather than punitive and retributive.

This is not well understood in our Western view of the atonement, but we can see restorative justice demonstrated beautifully in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I’m only going to summarize here because I’ve covered this in depth in the past. I will refer you to those posts as we go.

Restorative justice is a higher form of justice because it’s not about punishing the perpetrator; it’s about restoring both the perpetrator and the victim.

In God’s redemptive story, we’re the perpetrators and Jesus is the victim. It was Christ on the cross, taking all of our insults, abuse…our darkness, our fears…all our vitriolic poison and sin upon Himself. Contrary to popular opinion, the Father NEVER abandoned Jesus! He’s not an absentee Dad! At this most critical moment in human history, He was working in His Son, reconciling us to Himself

So, let’s be clear about the roles here. We were the enemies, abandoning Jesus, pouring out our wrath, not God (emphasis added):

19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them… (2 Cor. 5:19 NLT)

21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled. (Col.1:21 NKJV)

Here’s how we should interpret what’s going on at the crucifixion.

We were the perpetrators of a heinous crime against God by unjustly killing the innocent Son of His love. WE were the ones with the angry murderous hearts, saying “Crucify Him!” We were the ones with the enmity (Rom.8:7; Eph.2:14-16), God’s children full of wrath and enemies in our minds (Rom.5:10; Eph.2:3; Col.1:21), separated in our hearts from the Father’s love and life (John 17:3).

The Father—BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE—was IN His incarnate Son, allowing us to crush Jesus, allowing all of our iniquities to be fused with the Divine Nature, so we could be healed and brought back into perfect union with Him as Christ is in perfect union with Him.

32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die. (John 12:32-33 NKJV)

For further study, you can read my series, “Did God Kill Jesus?”

The word, “reconciled” means to restore, or bring into harmony by exchanging something of equal value. Beloved, not only did God restore you to Himself, He loved you SO MUCH that He gave Jesus (John 3:16), which means you have equal value to Him!

5:10  Our hostility and indifference towards God did not reduce his love for us; he saw equal value in us when he exchanged the life of his son for ours. Now that the act of reconciliation is complete, his life in us saves us from the gutter-most to the uttermost. (Rom.5:10 Mirror)

Yet, the Father, who had enjoyed unbroken fellowship and other-centered love with His Son from eternity, would not leave Him as a victim, wounded because of our transgressions. For, as He was in Christ during the crucifixion, His Spirit was working mightily in Jesus when He raised Him from the grave!

27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’
(Acts 2:27; cf. Ps. 16:10-11)

We actually see God restoring the victim—Jesus—in Isaiah 53:10. Unfortunately, we (in the Latin West) have misread this passage for centuries because of the way it was translated. When looking at the oldest account [Septuagint (LXX): the Scriptures used by Jesus and the apostles], it’s actually telling us that it pleased the Father to heal Jesus of His wounds that we inflicted! As Jesus took our disease and healed us, the Father cleansed the Son of His Love.

And the Lord desires to cleanse him from his blow.
If you give an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived offspring. (Isaiah 53:10 LXX, translated into English – NETS)

You can read more about this in my post, “Saving Easter – Part five.”

So, in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we see God’s restorative justice beautifully on display.

First, God heals, forgives, and restores the perpetrator—us—by fusing our human nature to His divinity (by His hypostatic union). He healed our diseased human condition by fusing it to Himself and burying it in the grave forever!

Second, we see God restoring the victim—Jesus—by cleansing Him of our blow, and vindicating Him by raising Him up on the third day and making Him Lord over all! (Phil.2:8-11)

Why is this important? Because you’re NOT a pardoned criminal. You are a NEW CREATION! Pardoned criminals aren’t transformed and changed, but you have been fused into Jesus Christ! Your life is now HIS life. Your righteousness and holiness is HIS righteousness and holiness. Because you’ve literally been placed inside of Christ in the heavenly realm, you’re not an orphan anymore; you’re God’s beloved son or daughter, the same way Jesus is His beloved Son!

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal.4:4-6 NKJV)

Precious sought out one, do you see this? Open your heart and mind to this glorious reality. This is what Easter means. By His stripes you were healed (Matt.8:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:24). You died and rose again with Christ, and now your life is hidden in Christ in God (Col. 3:3).

Praise God! O Happy Day! What a glorious Day!  We have a good, good Father!

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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