It happens by fits and starts, yet unmistakably: in the Bible, mercy and justice draw ever closer to each other. The figure of the crucified Messiah binds them irrevocably as the defining components of God’s love.
This Messiah bears the divine justice in his body. His wounds are those we have inflicted, by neglect and by malice, on God’s children and God’s creation, and thereby on the divine reality itself. They are the consequences of our rebellion.
Simultaneously, though, these wounds are borne not only on God’s behalf, as the manifestation of divine justice, but on ours. On the cross, Jesus presents us to God. His suffering speaks a plea to the Almighty: “Look with the eyes of your mercy on this rebellious race. Yes, their wounds are self-inflicted. Yet they cannot heal themselves. Direct their steps toward the healing that eludes even their best efforts.”
Again and again we are reminded that so many of our wounds, seen and unseen, are both self-inflicted and beyond our own power to heal. From the cross, the culmination of the Biblical witness, Christ is forming a prayer in each of us: “I accept your justice, Lord, and ask for your mercy.” Receiving justice and mercy alike, we receive the indivisible love that lies at the heart of God.