16TH DECEMBER 2021
CAN A MAN JUSTIFY GOD?
ISAIAH 54:1-10 PSALMS 30:2, 4-6, 11-13 LUKE 7:24-30
Towards the end of today’s Gospel reading, it is recorded that: When they heard this, all the people and the tax collectors justified God having been baptized with the baptism of John; but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.”
What is it that the people heard? They heard the rhetorical questions that Jesus asked them about John the Baptist and Jesus needed no answer from them because he only wanted to create an effect and to make a point and to challenge the faith of the crowds in relation to his role as the one whom John prepared the way for.
We can see that the question of Jesus indeed had an effect on the people because it is recorded that they justified God yet it is God alone who can justify us on the basis of our faith? What does it mean to Justify God?
In the normal definition, to justify means to show or prove to be right or reasonable while theologically to justify means to declare or make righteous in the sight of God due to one’s faith in God. When today’s Gospel reading notes that all the people and the tax collectors justified God it does not mean that they justified God in the manner that sinners are justified, rather, these people, by their acceptance of John’s message, acknowledged that God was right and just in giving the ordinance of the baptism of repentance through John.
God was right and just in giving the ordinance of baptism of repentance through John because after John preached to the people to turn away from their sins and be baptized, and God will forgive their sins, we are told we are told that the people, some tax collectors and some soldiers asked John what they should do and John told them respectively to share their food and clothing with those who do not have, not to collect more taxes than is legal and not take people’s money by force or accuse anyone falsely and to be contented with their pay Luke 3:1-14.
If these people heeded John’s call by asking him the questions it means that they wanted to repent, that is, change their attitude in the places where they worked and struggled. Is this not reason enough to say that they justified God, that they saw and understood why God was calling them to repent?
Conversely, when the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him, it means that they saw no good reason enough to repent, that is, change their attitude and so to them God was unjust in issuing this opportunity.
When they talk of their association with Abraham in Luke 3:1-14 as a reason for not wanting to repent, they have an attitude called religious heritage thinking that they are spiritually better and safe because of something religious or because of their association with a prominent religious figure.
In other aspects of life, different types of heritages (political, ethic, cultural, academics, occupational, age) can guarantee you what you want but can our religious heritage make us safe spiritually to the point of not wanting to repent? Apart from our religious heritage what else stands in our way when it comes to justifying God and living according to God’s good intentions and what aspect of your faith and of your life makes you justify God because you understand God’s intention?