One of the best places to see the effects of Justice is in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5 shows the sermon begins this way:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
The basic structure of the beginning of the sermon is: “Blessed are the (people who have this cause) for they will (get this specific effect because of justice)”. There three points to be made here.
First, the sermon is based on causality. The sermon gives a cause and then an effect.
Second, notice Jesus gives the reason WHY. Everything after the “for” is the reason. In my Bible, all of the following words are circled: “for”, “that”, “because”. These words set up the reason. The Bible gives the reason! It is not a book that believes in randomness.
Third, justice drives this sermon. Whether it is the merciful getting mercy or the hungry and thirsty getting filled, Jesus showed that justice is the engine that provides rewards to causes. Notice, justice is a higher principle that determines God’s mercy.
Then this portion of the sermon ends in an interesting summarizing statement:
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
This phase of the Sermon ends with Jesus talking about how those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake will get the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:10). He further says that we should rejoice and be exceeding glad when men persecute us and say all manner of evil falsely against us because of Jesus (Matthew 5:11-12). Why? Jesus says our reward in Heaven will be great.
Notice one verse talked about getting to Heaven because of righteousness, the other talked about getting rewarded in Heaven. Both are resulting from Justice being upheld in the Long Term.
However, it looks as if Jesus may have two messages. One message is how to get to Heaven. The other message is how to get reward.
Are these the same message?
Did Jesus actually have two messages?
What are the implications?
We will spend the rest of the week investigating these questions.