God’s Wrath Abated
He was beaten and bruised. He was mocked and jeered. He was tortured and punched. He was spit upon and crowned with thorns. He was led to the place of the skull. And there he was impaled upon two wooden planks and raised up. And in an eternal paradox, the Father sees the first drop of blood fall upon Calvary’s dirt. That should have brought the angelic hosts to exact the wrath of God.
That sinful man should murder the sinless Lamb is unthinkable. And the Father’s wrath was surely coming to a boil. Mankind deserved every ounce of divine wrath and retribution. Every single ounce. And that first droplet of blood from Emmanuel’s veins should have been the final straw, and it should have triggered God‘s vengeance. But in the mystery, a profound redemptive mystery, it was that first drop of blood which caused God to change the course of His wrath and place it upon His only begotten Son.
In a mystery, in an eternal and glorious mystery, that first drop of divine blood changed eternity. When God saw that drop of blood descend upon Golgotha’s ground His wrath was stayed. When I see the blood I will pass over you. And there hangs the dead frame of the Incarnate One, the Passover Lamb, and it appears worn and lifeless. It is almost draped over that cross. And the amount of blood, now dry and caked, is repulsive.
And when they take Him down his arms swing while His head stretches back toward earth. He is dead. This limp human figure has been beaten unmercilessly and is now escorted to a borrowed tomb. Even His friends have left and only a few lowly women attend to His body. He is dead; He is abandoned; He is now inconsequential. People go about their business with no notice of this man who has received the result of His death sentence.
But what mankind does not realize is that within a few weeks men and women from all over the world will herald this man and His death as the gateway to eternal life with the Creator. And not only will they relentlessly and with much determination and energy be a witness for Him, but many will give their lives for His cause. And they will claim He was God in the flesh, dying for the sins of the world. This death? A common Jew dying a thieves death?
I mean let’s face it, if this man had been God in the flesh would He not have extricated Himself and destroyed His enemies? Would that entire scenario at Calvary have been a great time to show His divine power? He should have called upon thousands of angels and wipe out the entire wicked city, and in fact the entire wicked world. What power! What righteous indignation! What divine retribution! What a divine spectacle!
Oh, but you have fully misunderstood the cross and the ministry of the Incarnate One even while hanging almost naked. You have only thought on His power which is inexhaustible and without measure. You have assessed His ministry through the lens of what you would have done if you had been under similar circumstances with similar power. You have correctly realized that He would have been justified in displaying such power and such wrath. Yes, you have seen those things.
But oh, you have missed it all if that is what you see. The all powerful One had laid down His power and had offered His face to the spittle of wicked men. He accepted the indignation and pain of that crown of thorns. He willingly received the brutality of that excruciating whipping. He received those punches without raising His hand against them. He laid down and welcomed the nails that were driven through His hands and feet. And when the cross upon which He was impaled was lifted up and unceremoniously dropped in a hole with a thud, and when it became evident that His crucifixion would take place between two thieves, He embraced it.
What?? The God of all Eternity embraces this despicable instrument of death? The sinless Son of God welcomes the mocking and the shame? And that body that was prepared for Him, He willingly receives the wounds that will shed His precious blood? There has to be some more technological feat that the Creator will accept as a human achievement. There must be some cosmological key that unlocks the divine mystery and that will impress our Creator. Will He not accept some feeding and clothing of the poor? Our good intentions? Our wonderful places of worship? Do we not even get credit for being monotheists? Surely it cannot be this pitiful man, adorned with His own blood, and beaten beyond recognition. This cannot be God’s plan, and something has gone very, very wrong.
Oh but sinner, look once again. Let your mind cast itself upon this spectacle. Imagine again the tortured frame that once healed and fed thousands, but now is void of life at the hands of angry sinners. There is a glory in this death that human minds can partially touch through our doctrine, and those who receive and believe it can experience a part of the mystery, but the glory inherent in the cross is voluminous and eternal and fully beyond all who still inhabit an earthly frame. Its mystery and power is unfathomable and renders all human works as residual and earthly while its bloody incandescence will shine for all eternity. This suffering, this torture, this death is the zenith of the revelation of the Creator’s heart.
The feeding of the five thousand, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the opening of the eyes of Bartimaeus, the healing of the man with palsy, and all the miracles of Christ were all partial looking glasses into His heart and power. But the cross was the culmination, the substance, and the clear and accessible vision of God’s heart and redemptive power. Yes, that ghastly mess carried out by the hands of Roman oppressors, is the exclusive payment for man’s sins. And in a stunning revelation, it was always God’s eternal plan.
No one born of a woman can fathom or even understand the wrath of the Creator. Just a 101 course in astronomy gives us a minor revelation of the Creator’s power through the greatness of His creation. But who can understand the Trinity or its inner workings and relationships? But God has revealed to us His Father and Son existence, and with those human words He intends to teach us a mystery that can at least be gleaned on our own level. And this Father gave His only begotten Son and this Son willingly gave Himself. And for whom? For God’s worst enemies. Again, we hold ourselves in much greater esteem than we ever should. Our sin is not just a slight against God, but it is a deep and diabolic act of open rebellion against the very One who gave us life and sustains us.
And knowing the extent of our rebellion, and even knowing that His own creation was inventing false gods to whom they gave worship, God still chose to give Himself. And the grotesque nature of His sacrifice makes men recoil since they are unaware that they are looking at their own sin. All the blood and gore is not only a revelation of God’s redemptive heart, but it is a public revelation of our sins.
God will one day release His indefatigable and righteous wrath upon the entire world who stands uncovered in His Son’s blood. But on that wondrous day just outside of Jerusalem, God’s wrath was abated through the shedding of His own Son’s blood. And the wrath that we most assuredly deserved, was placed upon the Son of God instead. Who can know this? Who can unpack such mystery? Who can provide a sufficient doctrinal treatise? But after all was said and done, God does provide us with something all sinners can understand.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.