Proclamation of Justice

“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.
       He is my chosen one, who pleases me.
I have put my Spirit upon him.
       He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout
       or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
       or put out a flickering candle.
       He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
He will not falter or lose heart
       until justice prevails throughout the earth.
       Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.”

God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out.
       He created the earth and everything in it.
He gives breath to everyone,
       life to everyone who walks the earth.
And it is he who says,
“I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.
       I will take you by the hand and guard you,
and I will give you to my people, Israel,
       as a symbol of my covenant with them.
And you will be a light to guide the nations.
       You will open the eyes of the blind.
You will free the captives from prison,
       releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.

“I am the LORD; that is my name!
       I will not give my glory to anyone else,
       nor share my praise with carved idols.
Everything I prophesied has come true,
       and now I will prophesy again.
I will tell you the future before it happens.” (Isaiah 42:1–9 NLT)

Yesterday, Palm Sunday, marks the day roughly 2,000 years ago when Jesus rode into Jerusalem to an adoring crowd. From a worldly perspective, this was the high point of Jesus’s career. Sure, he’d drawn larger crowds for some of his teachings – such as the two times he created enough food for thousands from only a handful of loaves of bread and a few fish – but this was a legitimate procession, with everyone singing his praises and laying down their clothes on the road so even the donkey he was riding wouldn’t touch the dirt.

Yet, from a spiritual perspective, this procession was something much, much different. It wasn’t a proclamation of strength and might, of Jesus as the conquering warrior who would overthrow Rome and bring freedom from oppression to all Israel. It was a proclamation of Jesus as the King who would bring peace to the nations, not through strength or war or even through the absence of conflict. No, his peace is one that comes from the Lord. It is the shalom of God, a restoration of creation – people, the earth, the very laws of nature – to how it was always meant to be. It is a proclamation of something that still has yet to come to full fruition.

The proclamation of Palm Sunday is that of Isaiah 42: It is the announcement that justice will come to the nations, even to all who have been wronged. It is the declaration that the eyes of the blind will be opened and the captives will be freed. It is the pronouncement that justice and righteousness will prevail throughout the earth.

If you are honest with yourself, which of these proclamations do you find yourself clinging to in the midst of life’s struggles, the one of strength and might – that Jesus will come to your rescue and resolve all your problems for you – or the one of shalom – that the Lord’s healing and restoration is here in part but has yet to be fully realized?