Advent 9: Isaiah 9:6-7, Revelation 19:1-16, 1 Timothy 6:11-16

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We all get the concept of justice. You do something wrong and there is retribution, you are made to pay in some way for your wrongdoing. It is central to our society that we try as hard as we can to stay within the law of the land as set out by our government or face justice.

Of course, not everyone manages to do this. There are and will always be criminals, those who cheat the system or those who choose to disobey the law as a form of protest. The former two groups do so out of greed and selfishness in many cases, with a total disregard of the law. The latter, those who protest, often do so because they perceive some kind of injustice which is to be railed against; often they’re right because the laws of human beings are, by their nature, flawed.

The same is true of God’s law. He is referred to as sending Jesus to govern over us in Isaiah and there are many references to his justice and law. There are still laws we must try our hardest to keep; laws regarding worshipping God, loving and caring for others, keeping God’s commandments etc. we have a choice as to whether or not we follow these laws, but they are there.

The difference is in the way justice is meted out. We all face it, but we can throw ourselves on God’s mercy. This is where the difference lies. When you throw yourself on the mercy of a human court you may need to make deals to get leniency. However, throwing yourself, sincerely, on God’s mercy and…

suddenly you are innocent of all charges. You’re sent from the court a free person and told to keep within the law. And, because of that, you try even harder to do so.

The thing is that, at some stage, you’ll break those laws again. It’s one of those things you can’t help. So you go back to court, worried that your past errors will be taken into account. You throw yourself on God’s mercy again and…

suddenly you are innocent of all charges, again!

That’s grace. You don’t deserve it, but Jesus, who came to Earth at Christmas, took the punishment we should have had on the cross. He did it, not to save us from himself, as some thinks it means, but to save us from ourselves. To save us from that spiral towards destruction that sin leads us to. We must face justice for our sin, but we have Jesus to stand up for us and declare us not guilty.

It’s not a get out of jail free card. We can’t just ask for forgiveness then keep doing the same old thing. It is a second chance, though, and a third chance. And a fourth, fifth, sixth…

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