A lust for justice and the death of Jesus

I like to divide the world into black and white. Person A is a good person, someone who likes me, has done nice things for me, with whom I generally agree, someone I enjoy being around. Person B, on the other hand, has sinned against me, bothers me, has different interests than me, a different background. In my sin, I want to categorize everyone I know in Person A and B columns, and then make sure all my neighbors are Person As and avoid Person Bs as much as possible.

So, when I come to Psalm 5, my sinful temptation is to pray of the Person Bs in the world, “Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels” (5:10). When I’m in a really bad place, I can put faces and names to those I wish God would judge. I want me and all the Person As in my world to “take refuge in” the Lord and “rejoice” (5:11), but want no Person Bs invited to my holy party.

My soul is black, as black as soot. My heart and God’s heart are worlds apart on this point. Because while I am content to cheer God on as he pours out his wrath against the wicked, our gracious Lord is NOT content to stop there. Had he my heart, you and I and all humanity would have been swept away in judgment long ago.

My soul.

But it struck me as I read this that when I cheer on God’s wrath, I am cheering on the suffering and death of Christ. I want a front row seat to witness the cosmic squashing of my enemies (or just those I am not terribly fond of), but God would rather BE squashed than squash. He would rather take the full brunt of his justice on our behalf than let his rebellious creatures “bear their guilt.”

When I perversely desire a person be struck down by the justice of the Lord, I am really desiring the Lord Jesus be brutally killed; he took all God’s justice for us. The more severe divine justice is, the more awful Christ’s suffering for us.

Our God is gracious and merciful, as he says in Ezekiel 33:11, “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” God’s heart is vastly different than mine. Perhaps someday He will teach me to delight in what He does. But so often, I’d rather cling to my perverse sense of justice than rejoice in His mercy. Thank God I’m not God.

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