Speaking at the Interfaith Service in Boston, President Obama said, “Yes, we will find you. And yes, you will face justice. We will hold you accountable.” Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren stated, “we will identify whoever did this – and we will bring them to justice.” The FBI Special-agent for Boston said, “We will go to the ends of the Earth to identify the suspects responsible for this despicable crime.”
Somehow, being able to identify whoever committed this crime and bringing them to justice restores a sense of balance.Four days later one suspect is dead, the other badly wounded and in custody.
This, of course, is not the first time our nation has been stricken by senseless slaughter. The Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the Twin Towers on 9-11, Fort Hood in 2009, all remain vivid in our memories. In each case the heroism, love and sacrifice of thousands vastly overwhelmed the criminal hatred of the few. And in each case we felt compelled to go to every extreme to find and punish the perpetrators.
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were arrested for detonating the explosive in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people including 19 children under the age of six. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001. Terry Nichols is serving a life sentence in prison.
After the Twin Tower attacks in 2001, we launched an all-out war against Saddam Hussein and Iraq. U.S. Navy Seals eventually cornered Osama bin Laden in his compound in Pakistan and gunned him down. The Fort Hood attacker faces the death penalty in a court martial scheduled for May 29.
Justice is a multi-billion dollar business. Every day the news is riddled with crime reports and subsequent accounts of the apprehension and conviction of the criminal. We are mesmerized by courtroom drama. Our novels and movies largely revolve around the contest of good vanquishing evil, the twists and turns that lead to justice and vindication of right over wrong.
Why is it that in our human relationships, we require justice, but when it comes to God, we seem to think everyone is going to Heaven? Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten that the God of redemption is also the God of justice. Isaiah wrote, “But the Lord of hosts will be exalted in judgment, and the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness.” (Isa. 5:16).
When Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel he portrayed Jesus’ promise to return and render judgment to all men (Mt. 26:31-41). “In that you have done it to the least of these,” Jesus said, “you have done it to me.”
Our efforts at justice are imperfect. Sometimes the guilty go free. Sometimes the innocent suffer. But the courts of God are perfect in every way. As the Scripture says, “It is appointed to man once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Heb. 9:27). And as the Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows this shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7).