Luke 4:17-21, Deuteronomy 10:17-19

The justice of God is very different from the world notion of justice.

  • The statue of Lady justice represents the worldly concept of justice that focuses on fair procedures, individual rights, and equal opportunities to all.
  • But Jesus himself suffers under injustice. His trial leading to his crucifixion violates the Jewish laws at various levels.
  • If Jesus is bringing a justice like that of Lady Justice, then he can right the wrong in his own trial. He didn’t because he is bringing a different type of justice.  

Luke 4:17-21: Jesus promulgates a justice that focuses on restoring a community to what it is supposed to be rather than a justice that focuses on individual rights .

  • Jesus defines his mission in terms of bringing justice to the poor and the oppressed.
  • He gives preferential treatment to those who are most vulnerable in society.  
  • Preferential treatment sounds contrary to the notion of justice, but precisely because mankind is not acting fairly, so God needs to show such favoritism to correct the imbalance of power and restore the society to the way he intends it to be.

Deuteronomy 10:17-19: The same concept of justice is found in the Old Testament when God reveals himself to his people.

  • Again, justice in the Old Testament is portrayed by way of God showing special attention to the needy in society.
  • More so, this passage highlights the interconnection between Justice and Love.
    • Executing justice for the needy is the way to love them.
    • You cannot love your neighbor without being concerned that justice be done to them.
    • Justice is done to the poor and the oppressed by showing kindness and mercy, as concrete as giving them food and clothing. 

Justice Expresses Love with a Special Concern for the Needy

God holds us accountable if we fail to provide for the needy.

  • One of the reasons for God to wipe out Sodom is because of their neglect of the needy when they have plenty (Ezekiel 16:49-50).
  • God rejects the worship of his people Israel when their worship only has religious practices without ministering to the needy (Isaiah 58:3; 6-7). 

Even if we never do anything to exploit others, or intend to harm others, we are guilty if our lives are structured in a way that is based upon the exploitation of others. 

Two action items:

  • Use bible verses on biblical justice for our meditation so that our concept of justice is shaped by the word of God rather than by culture.
  • Check out local NGOs or ministries (such as Compassion Canada, Union Gospel Mission) that serve the needy in our community and prayerfully ask God how you can get involved.

Bible Verses on Biblical Justice
Old Testament

Deuteronomy 10:17-19: For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 24:17: You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge.

Psalm 103:6: the Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. 
Psalm 140:12: I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.
Proverbs 29:7: A righteous man knows the rights of the poor, a wicked man does not understand such knowledge. 
Proverbs 31:8-9: Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Isaiah 1:17: Learn to do good; seek justice and correct the oppressor. Defend the fatherless and plead the case of the widow.
Isaiah 58:6-7: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Jeremiah 22:3: Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.

Ezekiel 22:29: The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice.

Zechariah 7:9: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments; show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” 
New Testament

Matthew 23:23: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

Matthew 25:31-46: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Luke 4: 16-19:  And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

James 1:27: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.