This devotional is from our “God is Love” series, from the sermon “Exodus to Grace”

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:39-47)

We have a very difficult time reconciling love and justice. We demand that the oppressed be set free, but do we demand that the oppressor be condemned? Some would see mercy, others would see retribution.  We can look back at the history of Israel, particularly in the Exodus, and see justice and oppression being balanced in a way as never before in history – the nation was called to remember the poor and oppressed because they were once poor and oppressed.  The justice that was demanded by the grumbling heart was one that could simply set boundaries, limits on retribution and action, but not one that could be free to extend the love that represents the character of God himself.  That takes a kind of discipline that allows us to work for good, in spite of the evil done to us, and thus to follow in the steps of Christ.  Freedom from the law came at a great price.  God freed Israel from Pharaoh, and they expected freedom from Rome in the Messiah they awaited; Christ came to free us from our own hearts, bound in grumbling, anger, and the bondage of imperfection.

Dialogue Questions:

    • Why do you think man struggles with power to oppress others to begin with? What is it about the human heart that causes us so often in our history to abuse power rather than use it for good?
    • How does God use justice as a stop-gap to limit the authority of those in power?  Does the law fix our heart, or just stop our hand?
    • How is Christ “the one Moses wrote about”?
      • What do you think of the New Testament interpretations of Christ as having fulfilled the types and patterns of the Old Testament?
      • Do you take this as later reinterpretation or do you see you Christ was the Messiah that Israel was waiting for?
    • What power does Christ follower have, really, to act out of love, rather than out of legal obligation?

Things to Pray about:

    • Pray for God to free the captive, bind up the broken hearted, and bring justice through our hearts renewed in Christ and our hands set towards His will.