Jesus Christ is forgiving, merciful, loving, and for the death penalty! I am astounded at how so many people simply see Jesus as everything except just and Holy. Jesus was the perfect Law keeper. Even regarding John 8, we saw that Jesus was keeping the Law by throwing out the case because Biblical procedure was not followed.
I want to look at a particular passage where Jesus upholds the Law and the very Law that requires lawful execution:
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, ‘What you would have gained from me is given to God,’ he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” – Matthew 15: 1-9
This is found twice in the O.T.:
“Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.” – Exodus 21:17
“For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him.” – Leviticus 20:9
This Law is contained in the civil Law section of Leviticus. Within the same chapter contains the death penalty for those that commit sodomy. Jesus is clearly endorsing the civil code here and speaks about it as “commandments.”
Matthew Henry says of the passage:
“Are we shocked at the unnatural cruelty of the ancient idolaters in sacrificing their children? We may justly be so. But are there not very many parents, who, by bad teaching and wicked examples, and by the mysteries of iniquity which they show their children, devote them to the service of Satan, and forward their everlasting ruin, in a manner even more to be lamented? What an account must such parents render to God, and what a meeting will they have with their children at the Day of Judgment! On the other hand, let children remember that he who cursed father or mother was surely put to death. This law Christ confirmed. Laws which were made before are repeated, and penalties annexed to them.”
Clearly Christ is confirming this commandment. What? You say He is not? Is this too harsh? I like what Dr. Gary North says about that: “The negative penalties of the Old Testament case laws were not harsh, but just, not a threat to society, but rather the necessary judicial foundation of civic freedom… the Old Testament was harsh on criminals because it was soft on victims.”
If you are to say that this Law is not to be obeyed today, then why not? Was Christ wrong in confirming it then? Why shouldn’t it be obeyed by the civil magistrate? If the civil magistrate is the “minister” of God and is to punish the evildoer, doesn’t God’s Law define what is evil? Of course, to reject the Bible as the authority on these matters is to set up man-centered laws which could turn upon you at any autonomous moment.
Many bring up that Christ taught that we are to “love our enemies.” I would, of course, agree, but that doesn’t mean that the civil magistrate is not to punish acts of lawlessness. Should the civil magistrate just forgive and love criminals? Let’s try to be consistent here. Both things can be occurring at the same time. If someone murdered your spouse, you could most certainly be “forgiving” and “loving” those individuals in light of their repentance while the civil magistrate lawfully executes them.
Jesus was clearly the supreme Law keeper and endorser of capital punishment. Let’s remember that Jesus also said,
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“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”