The Cross, God’s Wrath & Love
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. – Romans 2:5 (ESV)
We are in that season when we remember the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. These are the two most momentous events in the Christian calendar. Without Jesus’ death, there would be no redemption and no forgiveness of sin. Without His resurrection, we would have no hope of eternal life.
Jesus was crucified on the cross, the righteous for the unrighteous. He died. He was buried. On the third day, He rose from the grave. This is the central message of the gospel, which is preached by Christians throughout the last two thousand years.
Why the cross? Why must Jesus die on the cross? Why did God choose the cross to be the instrument of salvation for humanity?
People today wear crosses as an adornment. In certain places, crosses have become a fashion statement. It was not so two thousand years ago. During the time of the Roman Empire, the cross was a symbol of shame and disgrace because it was an instrument of execution reserved only for the worst criminals and insurrectionists. It is perhaps the cruellest invention for torture cum death. The crucified person died by asphyxiation, usually only after a few days.
Jesus was neither a criminal nor an insurrectionist. In fact, He was without sin. Yet, He was crucified on a cross. Putting political intrigue and religious manoeuvring aside, it was God’s will for Jesus to die on the cross. He was sent to the earth precisely for such a mission.
Jesus had to suffer rejection, shame and pain because of the wrath of God. On the cross, the fierce anger of God was unleashed upon Jesus as He carried our sins in His body. Let me put it this way. Jesus took our punishment for sin to satisfy God’s wrath against us.
The wrath of God is not well understood by many Christians. One reason for the ignorance is the reluctance of modern preachers to talk about it. Most people do not like to hear that God is angry with unrepentant sinners.
R.C. Sproul said, “God is angry every day against the wicked and justly so. And every impenitent sinner is exposed every second to the rage, the fury of God’s wrath.”
“The apostle, Paul, said, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Romans 1:18 – MEV).
These are strong statements. People need to know that God detests sin and He detests the wicked who are unrepentant.
Some clueless Christians might argue, “But God loves unconditionally. God hates the sin, but He loves the sinners.” Have you heard of that line before? But know that God does not send the sin to hell. Instead, He sends the sinner to hell. Think about it.
The wrath of God is clearly taught throughout the bible. God is angry with sinners not just in the Old Testament times but also in the New Testament times. You can read about the wrath of God throughout the book of Revelation. God is always angry with sin. God has not changed his stance on sin.
But there would be no good news if God was just angry with sin and He did nothing about it. Thankfully, God is love. Through the cross, He made provision for repentant sinners to escape His wrath by becoming our scapegoat as He bore the fury of the God’s wrath for the punishment of our sins. That is the love of God.
Thus, the cross became the place where the love of God intersected with the justice of God. We need to understand God’s wrath as a necessary part of His character to understand His love. Because He is just, God must punish sinners. But because He is love, His wrath and punishment fell on His Son, Jesus, instead of us.
Oh, how I love the Cross of Calvary where Jesus was crucified! Have a blessed Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday!
Pastor Les & Adeline Chua