“The Lord is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.” Psalm 98:9
”Lord, who will not hear and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your judgments have been revealed.” Revelation 15:4
We hear victim impact statements in publicized trials … weeping, the goodness of the victim, the loss inflicted. Frequently they go on to curse the accused, who, if justice is be served, should “burn in hell.” Rarely do we hear mention of forgiveness or a suggestion of mercy.
The Psalm, read literally, is not comforting. Orange jumpsuit and shackled by my human nature, I will be in trouble if I am to be judged with righteousness and equity. When the sheep are separated from the goats, what will be said in my impact statement? Did I give food, water, and clothing to those in need? Did I welcome strangers and visit the sick and incarcerated? Did I do anything good, or enough? Or did I not? Have I caused hurt in any way, holding back on charity, indifferent toward the lonely, shunning the stranger? What sentence do I deserve?
I would be in trouble were it not for the Judge’s grace and mercy – a judge of 2nd chance(s) – forgiven 70 times 7 chances. Jesus speaks forgiveness for the accused – a thief dying on a cross, for me, for you.
During Lent we dwell on Jesus as the accused – falsely, for the wrongs of others, of us. Condemned to death, no one asked for mercy. He would serve the sentence we deserved. And so we come, humbly, and worship and glorify his name.
“O wondrous love! to bleed and die, to bear the cross and shame, that guilty sinners, such as I, might plead thy gracious name!” Amen
(If you have time, consider reading the entire hymn “Approach, my soul, the Mercy Seat” written by John Newton)