God has placed within every human being a sense of right and wrong. This can be seen from the earliest of ages when a child screams bloody murder when a toy is taken from him by another child. Everyone has a built-in sense of justice (see Romans 2:15).
In recent years, justice has been a major theme of discussion in our culture. Notably, the death of George Floyd sparked riots, protest, and demands for justice under the movement of Black Lives Matter.
With that context, there is an unexpected place—that is not mentioned in the discussions—where we might find justice and the answer to injustices in our world: Christmas. Christmas—what we refer to in theological language as the incarnation—is a demonstration of justice. The fact that the second Person assumed a human nature displays supreme and ultimate justice.
The Christian theologian, Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109), wrote beautifully on the connection between justice and the incarnation in his book Why the God-man? Anselm saw that the reason God the Son had to become man was because of the character of God, namely, the justice of God. Because God is just, He must punish sin. If sin is not punished, God would not be just. So, it was not only God’s love that sent Jesus into the world (John 3:16) but also his justice. Christ’s incarnation is necessary because of the justice of God.
And the Son entering human flesh means at least two things for justice. First, sinners can be forgiven because God’s righteous demands of the law have been satisfied for those who are found in Christ (Romans 3:21-26). Second, the incarnation, and eventual death and resurrection of Christ, assures us that though injustice occurs in this life, one day justice will ultimately hold sway on the earth.
This Christmas season, seek justice in the incarnation. As we celebrate with food, family, and gifts, remember that Christmas is about justice—real justice. Yes, we can protest and litigate to achieve justice in this world. But when we relate and reflect on what Christmas means, we can tell ourselves, friends, and loved ones that God ultimately has demonstrated that he indeed is just—He sent His Son to be born into the world.