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Daily Devotions

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A Three Paragraph Dissertation on Private and Public Justice A.K.A. "You Done Me Wrong"

Posted: Wednesday, March 1

 Pastor Dan Wootton // Worship &amp; Music Pastor

Pastor Dan Wootton // Worship & Music Pastor

One Year Bible Reading Guide:

Leviticus 25:1-46
Mark 10:17-31
Psalm 44:17-26
Proverbs 10:21


Verse of the day:

They kept the man in custody until the Lord’s will in the matter should become clear to them. (Leviticus 24:12)

At first glance, Jesus’ teaching in Matthew conflicts with God’s teaching in Leviticus. 



God says . . . 

“Anyone who injures another person must be dealt with according to the injury inflicted—a fracture for a fracture, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Whatever anyone does to injure another person must be paid back in kind.” // Leviticus 24:19-20




Jesus says . . .

“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.” // Matthew 5:38-39



The context of these passages teach us the difference between private and public justice. In Leviticus chapter 24, Moses is seeking wisdom concerning a man who publicly cursed God. This action was an offense against the community. The man was arrested, and his punishment was weighed by the elders. God’s instructions teach us how a society should respond to the crimes of its people. God did and does support the appropriate punishment of crime. 



During Jesus’ lifetime, however, common practice had expanded the scope of this law. The Jews extended its use as a license for personal revenge. If someone had hurt you, cheated you, or offended you, it was your right to repay injury with injury. Jesus speaks to change the way we pursue justice in our private affairs. “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” // Matthew 5:43-44



We need to pray for righteous leaders to guide our criminal justice system. In our private lives, however, we need to forgive as Christ forgave us. We need to cast off offense. We need to repay pain with healing, theft with generosity, and hate with love.