Justice and Jesus
What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
Caesar Augustus (63 bc–ad 14), the first emperor of Rome, wanted to be known as a law-and-order ruler. Even though he built his empire on the back of slave labor, military conquest, and financial bribery, he restored a measure of legal due process and gave his citizens Iustitia, a goddess our justice system today refers to as Lady Justice. He also called for a census that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for the birth of a long-awaited ruler whose greatness would reach to the ends of the earth (Micah 5:2–4).
What neither Augustus nor the rest of the world could have anticipated is how a far greater King would live and die to show what real justice looks like. Centuries earlier, in the prophet Micah’s day, the people of God had once again lapsed into a culture of lies, violence, and “ill-gotten treasures” (6:10–12). God’s dearly loved nation had lost sight of Him. He longed for them to show their world what it meant to do right by each other and walk humbly with Him (v. 8).
It took a Servant King to personify the kind of justice that hurting, forgotten, and helpless people long for. It took the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy in Jesus to see right relationships established between God and people, and person-to-person. This would come not in the outward enforcement of Caesar-like law-and-order, but in the freedom of the mercy, goodness, and spirit of our servant King Jesus.
By Mart DeHaan
REFLECT & PRAY
What does it mean to you to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God? How do you see this lived out in the life of Jesus?
Father, in the name of Jesus, please help me do right by others and everyone You bring into my life.
God used Micah to challenge those who were robust in their religious expressions but deficient in righteousness and justice in day-to-day life. Jesus also rebuked the proponents of hollow religion in His day. His rebuke of the religious leaders just days before He was crucified included the words found in Matthew 23:23. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Christ’s words echoed those of Micah 6:8 and Micah’s contemporary Isaiah found in Isaiah 1:12–17. Justice matters to Jesus.