Isaiah 42:3 ESV: a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.
Nobody wants justice but the wounded. The trampled on. The sinned against. The nations cry for it. This world’s full of hurting people. Fix this. Punish them. Make them feel what I feel. Everyone quotes “judge not, lest ye be judged”, but “an eye for an eye” is the verse we really have in mind. The broken want their pound of flesh.
Someone told me God didn’t give us the “eye for an eye” verse to set a minimum punishments, but upper limits. It wasn’t that He was worried that we’d be too lenient with each other. He was worried we’d be too harsh. Which, if we’re willing to be honest about ourselves for even the briefest of moments, makes sense. It was a gift from God to keep us from taking even more than was taken from us in the name of ‘justice’.
Because to me, justice is about pain. I don’t think for a second it fixes anything. I don’t for a second care. I want the kind of justice that spreads around misery. Hatred only wants more of the same. Burn it all down. That will make me feel better. But it won’t. It doesn’t. It can’t. The coastlands wait for the law of karma. But that is not the law of God.
Our Lord promises to open the eyes that are blind due to the justice I want. Not simply the sad state of affairs down here, where we’ve so lost track of sin that we don’t know whether it was the blind man or his parents who sinned. I think God wants to open the blind eyes taken in judgment. I think He wants the eye taken for an eye restored. I think that because the Lord promises, with one breath, justice, and with the next, to free the prisoners, who don’t deserve it. He will bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. There is no justice in bringing out the prisoners. Justice by the law does not let loose the prisoners. The gospel does that.
Our Lord’s promise is not to break those who’ve broken you. It’s that He will not break the bruised reed. He will not quench the faintly burning wick. He will not crush the sinners, but will bring forth justice all the same. It’s the gospel. Wrong was done and needs to be punished. Jesus would bear the cost Himself in the name of justice.
Punishment unto your enemy doesn’t heal you. Punishment unto your God does. He would not cry out or lift up His voice to defend Himself. He would not abandon the path that lead to the Golgotha. He would carry His cross for me and for you. Not for the innocent. For the guilty. The sinners. Us. We love to play the victim, and turn blind eyes from those we’ve hurt. But God makes the blind to see, and even making us see the depth of our sins, God leads us out of the prison we deserve. He leads us from hell to heaven. From death to life. He died that you would live. And not just you. There is enough justice here for your enemy. Look. See their sins punished. Look, see your God’s mercy, not just as a guilt trip to forgive them too, but as a promise of mercy that doesn’t rest on your heart not being in pain anymore. The coastlands wait for the law fulfilled in Jesus. He established justice on all the earth, not by the law, but by the gospel. Your sins are forgiven you. Your pound of flesh was paid on the cross. He will faithfully bring forth justice, even if the cost is Himself. He paid it for all. The cross doesn’t just spread around the misery. It heals it. It makes a promise of resurrection and restoration to that which sin destroyed. Down here, we play an eye for an eye. Some are born blind and some are blinded by sin, but the justice God worked in His death and resurrection mean there will come a day when both blind men see. Forgiven. Whole. Alive. For God will not break the bruised reed.