Audio Reading (0:03:02):
What is true justice if not getting paid back for the harms suffered from injustice? Truth be told, that’s exactly how God justified Jesus of Nazareth—exalting him by raising him from the dead after he was viciously deprived of his rights as the Jewish Messiah, including everything that should have accompanied that status, even his very life. Real justice demanded new life in exchange for his death, exaltation for his humiliation, glory for his shame, power for his weakness, repayment for his loss, and a vast surplus beside. That’s how the shedding of his innocent blood was rectified and atoned for by God.
What is conciliation if not the amazed and grateful response of people to a God they imagined was their enemy yet who allowed them to execute his beloved son without immediately taking vengeance, but instead restored him to life with spectacular power? For this proved beyond a doubt not only that this mutilated person really was his son after all, but also that it was grossly unjust for them to have taken his life. Furthermore, it means God all along had the power to avenge his death with theirs yet refrained from doing so. Instead he announced a pardon to all who would trust him and obey his directions, thereby achieving lasting peace with all who accept the offer.
What is grace if not this forbearing action of God in giving up his own divine rights and due respect rather than demanding legal reparations from sinful human beings? What is this graciousness but his satisfying the demands of justice himself by rewarding his sinless son with universal authority, immense glory, and life immortal, in fact, abundant enough to give away freely even to his murderers if they would simply change their minds about him and turn back? So what is forgiveness if not holding them harmless from their injuries yet bearing the cost himself, even to the extent of establishing a give-away program that defies human capacity to take in!
Finally, what is holiness if not the wholesome quality of overflowing life such that it cannot co-exist with death, decay or corruption? And what is love if not the desire to give away this life-giving wholesomeness to the needy and thereby replace poverty and corruption with abundance and rejuvenating power to heal and accomplish good in place of evil, chasing away darkness at the speed of light?
But what is all this, if not the Holy Spirit? Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
*”Manna” is the biblical Hebrew word that means ‘what is it?’—the name the ancient Israelites gave to the mysterious substance that God gifted them from the sky to nourish them for forty years in the desert until they entered the Promised Land.
November 21-23, 2008; rev. Nov. 22, 25, 2011