“So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter.”
In the famous Rosenberg trial of the 1950s, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were found guilty of treason and executed. In the closing arguments of that trial, the lawyer for the defendants pleaded, “Your Honor, what my clients ask for is justice.” Judge Kaufman, the presiding judge for the case, replied, “The court has given what you ask for–justice! What you really want is mercy. But that is something this court has no right to give.”
As Esther came before King Ahasuerus, she also hoped for more than justice. According to Persian law, to come into the presence of the king unbidden was a crime punishable by death. That was justice. What Esther sought, however, was mercy and fortunately the king had the right to grant it. Bestowing upon her the protection of his golden scepter, Ahasuerus granted her the privilege of standing in his presence without fear of execution.
The Christian has received this same kind of mercy from God. On our own, we deserve eternal death for our sins. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.” That would be nothing more than justice. Through Jesus Christ, however, God has extended mercy to us. We can now stand before His very throne without fear of condemnation (Rom. 8:1).
As mercy has been given to us, let us give to others. Is there someone in your life who needs your mercy? Are you willing to give up your right to justice in order to show them mercy? Don’t forget what the Scripture says: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7).
Justice is for those who deserve it, mercy is for those who don’t.
Martin A. Cisneros