When we think of these two words, they seem incompatible. Justice demands that people pay for their evil acts. Mercy forgives transgressions, allowing someone to escape punishment. How can God be both just and merciful? This month’s lessons from the words of Jesus address this apparent paradox.

June 3—Justice and Sabbath Laws – Matthew 12:1-14

Is there a difference between being just and being judgmental? Obeying the law and being legalistic? When the religious leaders of the day accused Jesus’ disciples of breaking Sabbath laws, Jesus clarified that issue.

KEY VERSE: If ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.—Matthew 12:7

June 10—Parables of God’s Just Kingdom – Matthew 13:24-33

Every society has rules and laws. And sometimes those regulations differ from nation to nation. Is there a way of telling whether a kingdom’s ethical base is sound? In a few simple parables, Jesus showed that a just kingdom flourishes.

KEY VERSE: Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.—Matthew 13:30

June 17—Jesus Teaches About Justice – Matthew 15:1-9

We all try to present ourselves in the best possible light. When it comes to determining if a person is truly good, how can we separate purity from pretense? In a confrontation with the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus pointed out that righteousness is far more than ritual.

KEY VERSE: This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.—Matthew 15:8

June 24—Reaping God’s Justice – Luke 16:19-31

But is God really just? If so, why do bad things happen to good people while scoundrels enjoy prosperity? Jesus told a story that illustrates how apparent injustices are corrected in eternity.

KEY VERSE: Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.—Luke 16:25