Capital Punishment and the Idol of “Justice”

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove posted this article today about the shudder inducing Oklahoma execution story that is all over the news (since we’ve already apparently moved on from secretly recorded racist NBA owners). In the article he says:

“For Christians a botched execution during our celebration of Easter must remind us that an execution is at the center of our story. But our Lord was not the executioner, scrambling to maintain an appearance of control in a world gone mad. He was, instead, the one who chose to remain silent before his accusers. “If anyone had the right to set things right and gain control, Jesus did.”
via Botched Oklahoma Execution Reveals Self-Deception.

It is a good reminder that when we feel like we need justice and recompense, God’s true justice looks nothing like the false idols of “justice” we prop up. God’s example of justice and peacemaking got Jesus nailed to a cross. We would do well to remember that,

He committed no sin, nor did he ever speak in ways meant to deceive. When he was insulted, he did not reply with insults. When he suffered, he did not threaten revenge. Instead, he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He carried in his own body on the cross the sins we committed. He did this so that we might live in righteousness, having nothing to do with sin. By his wounds you were healed.”
1 Peter 2:24 (CEB)

We deceive ourselves when we believe that taking a life will somehow restore the balance for a life taken. However, sin and death do not play fairly. Looking at Jesus nailed to the cross might give the impression to those in power that death allows us to control life. Easter and the resurrection demonstrates that the worldly vision of justice redeems no one.

God’s vision of justice, on the other hand, leads to Christ’s resurrection and the promise of new life.

When we choose to kill we let death have the victory. When we choose life, though we may yet die as Jesus did, we let God’s kingdom shine through the cracks of this broken world.


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