A Three Paragraph Dissertation on Private and Public Justice A.K.A. "You Done Me Wrong"
Posted: Wednesday, March 1
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.