It is such a glorious truth that God is not like me.
When someone hurts me, I don’t respond very well. In bitterness and anger, I seek justice over forgiveness, wrath over grace. I want people to have to face their sins and pay for what they’ve done to me. When someone hurts me, I can easily stop thinking rationally and start wishing I could throw all of my pain back in their faces for them to deal with. It’s not pretty or loving. If I was God, I think I’d be less like Jesus and more like Batman. Very little grace; lots of vengeance. I like to think that I’d keep the peace and uphold the truth and wouldn’t let the bad guys get away with their sins, but I know my flesh would quickly make a mess of things. I’d throw down fist fulls of wrath as I saw fit, and I’d ask questions afterward.
Yet God has done the unthinkable. He has both satisfied justice and shown his grace through the cross. Love and wrath are on display in this one event that changed the world. And he doesn’t stop there. His patience gives us time we don’t deserve. He allows blessings to be given us. He is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love. He is faithful. His grace covers the furthest extent of our sin. He does not grow weary. He is not blinded by selfishness. He never fails. He is a perfect God of imperfect people. We fall far short. But instead of leaving us, he saves us. He takes us in our broken state and purifies us, cleansing us of sin and molding us into the people he designed us to be. He works with us, continuing in faithfulness to us even when we wrestle and run. We don’t deserve any of it, but still he loves.
It’s easy for us to condemn someone for sinning against us. It’s easy to let anger and hurt give way to bitterness. It’s easy to cut ties with brothers and sisters instead of forgiving them. Forgiveness is hard. It’s a bit like death. You have to die to your hopes of getting what you think you deserve. You have to die to your idea of how you should be treated. You have to die to your wishes of seeing the offender crawl back to you in remorse over what they’ve done. It’s not easy, but living after Jesus’ example never is. The taking up of one’s cross is not a simple, lighthearted march.
Consider this, though. On the cross, Jesus could have taken it personally, but he didn’t. He could have called down an army to wipe out those who were crucifying him and mocking him, but he didn’t. He could have chosen wrath. He could have run away. He could have left us to die.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus didn’t let the moment take his eyes off of the eternal weight of glory. He pressed on for the joy set before him, and he endured the wrath in obedience to and faith in God. And praise the Lord that love was shown in this way! Praise the Lord for the Lamb’s humility and faith! His sacrifice is our salvation. His resurrection is our restoration. This short weekend, one Friday and one Sunday out of the year, reminds us of the love and wrath of God, shown so horrifically and beautifully in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah. It reminds us that even the greatest travesties and evils are not too much for the sovereign God of Romans 8. As taught by the life of Joseph, what man meant for evil, God meant for good. There’s more to the story than just the pain.
When hurt and bitterness strike, stop and remember your own sin. See yourself before a holy God and before the Savior on the cross. Consider what you’ve done, how often you’ve done it, and what you deserve for it. Then consider what God has done for you. Remember this weekend. Look up to see the bigger picture.
Now go, forgive as you have been forgiven, and sin no more.