“We. Will. Not. Forgive. Hundreds and hundreds of victims. Thousands and thousands of sufferings. And God will not forgive. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never. And instead of Forgiveness, there will be a Day of Judgment.”
Last week the President of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, pronounced an emotional judgement on the Russian enemy that has caused such horror and destruction.
His words were confronting, but if it was the mothers and babies at Shellharbour Hospital that were bombed by a ruthless enemy, then we’d have more empathy with this response.
Around 3000 years ago, God’s people were attacked by a brutal enemy, and so they cried out, “O God, do not be silent… Don’t you hear the uproar of your enemies?” (Psalm 83:1-2)
They call to God to act, asking him to “chase them with your fierce storm… terrify them with your tempest” (verse 15), and above all, for those enemies to be disgraced (verse 16-17).
We might feel a little embarrassed by this violence in the Bible, until we see another report from Ukraine… and then we empathise with their president’s lack of willingness to forgive.
When we or a family member is a victim of crime, we want justice, but the problem is that every human is naturally guilty of rejecting God.
And so whilst we seek justice, we also know our deep need for mercy.
Which is what makes Jesus’ words on the cross so remarkable: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Justice was satisfied on the cross of Good Friday, and all of us who deserve God’s anger can be forgiven if we ask Jesus for mercy.
God understands justice, and he also understands mercy.
For at the cross, justice and mercy embrace.
Jesus. Will. Forgive.