When Jesus challenges the Jewish leaders who caught a woman in adultery to cast the first stone if they were without sin, their options were few. Theirs was not an authentic righteousness. More concerned with trapping Jesus than with justice for the woman, they were considered "malicious witnesses," who, if they acted, would have been liable, according to the Rabbis, to the same punishment given to the woman. Afraid for their lives, they walked away, not because they wanted to do justice but because they were fearful on the stoning they deserved.
Then and now, Jesus demands authentic justice for all. While sin and crime sometimes demand serious punishment, more often than not, those seeking justice do not have pure motives. Wanting vengeance because they lose money or a loved one to death, they demand capital punishment, all the while ignoring or denying their own sins and crimes. Hurt and anger get in the path of mercy, but their is not a Gospel response.
The servant who cannot pay his debts begs for time from his master, but turns around and refuses to forgive or give more time to another servant who owes him money helps us understand Gospel justice. God will show us mercy, but we must offer that same gift to others.
Today, ask to be forgiven for your sins.
How do you understand Gospel mercy?