“It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26)
When we get in trouble, we’re usually far more concerned with mercy than justice. If the police officer pulls you over for speeding, you aren’t hoping that he upholds the law. Instead, you’re hoping for a break. This doesn’t mean we want a world without justice and only mercy, does it? Of course not. This would be chaos. In a world of misfits and disorder, we need an administration of justice. At the same time, we crave expressions of just mercy.
This is one reason why the cross of Christ is so compelling. Every single person is in trouble. We’ve “all sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). The law of God pulls us over, and we are guilty. We have no defense. What we want is mercy.
Will God give us a break? He can’t. He doesn’t compromise.
Instead, he does something far better. Instead of compromising his justice to show mercy, he demonstrates his justice while showing mercy. How is this possible? Jesus suffered the penalty on the cross due to sinners like me and you (Rom. 6:23). He satisfied justice! And at the same time, he secured forgiveness for all who would believe in him (John 3:16). God doesn’t compromise his justice to show mercy; he demonstrates his justice and shows mercy. In this way, God is “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).
Dear Christian believer, look at the cross of Christ and see the attributes of God singing together in beautiful harmony. God doesn’t compromise; he’s just and merciful at the same time.