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Jesus’s statement about justifying God before men is among the quiet things in The Gospels. Yet this his is at the heart of what God does with our lives. Luke 7:29-30 says,
“When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, 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.”
How do we justify God? The common people and even tax collectors did it by radical, public, heart-broken repentance. This is apologetics, although with many of us it is more personal. Note several facets of justifying God that are highlighted in Luke chapter 7.
Justifying The Righteousness of God
You can actually read or hear people who accuse God of evil. We are living in a time when many people are dissatisfied with everything in their lives. They usually express their discontent with government, teachers, or anyone in authority. I believe this may reflect a deep seated resentment toward God Himself. It is the underlying notion that the problems we endure in a fallen world are God’s fault. From what I have read, this discontent seems to be a world-wide phenomenon. Although it may be worse in the west because discontent is greater where people have freedom and more material blessings.
And make no mistake; this infects people in our churches. John the Baptist himself was offended by what God was doing. He sent a delegation to Jesus asking if He were really the Christ. We know from Matthew's Gospel that John was in prison. So we can understand his disillusionment. But Luke, by the Holy Spirit, points out that John's disciples reported to him what Jesus was doing as the news of His raising a man from the dead was spread abroad. I wonder if John thought Jesus should have been bringing final judgment rather than raising the dead.
The very word “just”* indicates that the issue is the justice or righteousness of God. The people who repented at the preaching of John justified God. Confessing their sins publicly declared God’s righteousness.
Justifying The Wisdom of God
John may also have been questioning the wisdom of God. Have you ever thought God did or allowed something that went counter to His purposes? One of the brightest and godliest students in seminary with me died in an automobile accident shortly before we were to graduate. It was difficult not to feel like God had wasted all his education, talents, and spiritual gifts by allowing his life to be cut off so early.
We have to trust that God knows what He is doing even if we don’t understand. In the long run God will use us as a testimony of His wisdom. Jesus told a parable in this passage using the ministry of John and His ministry to point out that they were like children playing in the market who wouldn’t cooperate no matter what the others did. He concluded,
“Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
Our faith declares the rightness of God to those whom we love. We can even trust God to make enough difference in us to touch the lives of people we don't even know. This even goes beyond our world. In Ephesians 3:10 Paul says he was entrusted with the gospel,
“So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”
Justifying The Grace of God
Most of all our faith in God demonstrates His grace in our lives. Scripture warns that things will be difficult in the last days. Whether we are coming into those harsh days or not, we need to be a witness in times that will be worse because of the cynicism and discontent of people around us.
Note the final word Jesus sent back to John the Baptist.
“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Blessedness refers to what God does in our lives. A good attitude is something we need to pray for God to produce in us. And a godly attitude comes from saturating ourselves in His promises and spending time in fellowship of God.
* The Greek word is, δικαίoω, dikaioo, just or righteous.
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