I honestly haven’t been impacted by a sermon like this in a while. Justin Taylor has already blogged about this, but I think it’s worth repeating. God’s Outrageous Love is a sermon R.W. Glenn gave at John Piper’s church, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN a couple of weeks ago. It’s a message on Jonah 4 and how outrageous it is that God loves any of us. Here is a quote: “Until you’re outraged by God’s love, you’ll never think it’s outrageous; until you’re offended by God’s love, you’ll never be overwhelmed by it.” This was really convicting and yet at the same time pointing to the greatness of the mercy of Christ. Highly recommended!
“And he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.’ And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'” (Mark 14:34-36)
Reading through this passage this morning presented me once again with the awful reality of what Jesus was staring into in the garden, looking into the dreadful cup of God’s wrath that He would have to endure if we were to be saved. The Father’s justice had to be satisfied if we were to be counted righteous. What lied in that cup of God’s just anger is terrifying beyond all of the physical torment He experienced. Its contents more hopeless and painful than any situation we could find ourselves in upon this Earth. What lied in that cup was hell. And He drank it down to the dregs.
Jesus was stricken for our sins, smitten and afflicted on our behalf, as prophesied in Isaiah 52:13-53, amongst other places. Jesus was looking into being cut off from the land of the living, taking on the curse that rightfully should fall on us sinners, becoming the final sacrificial lamb for all time, that we may be made right with God through faith alone, apart from works.
And not only did He endure the curse for us, but He prevailed triumphant in the resurrection, raised to life and thus sealed the hope of our salvation. He defeated sin, death and hell. What love must this be that would motivate the God of the universe to become a man, to bear our punishment though guiltless in Himself, and take on the very judgment our sins deserved? What a wonderful Savior!
This isn’t a portrayal of Jesus we like to ascribe to Him very often because, frankly, it is terrifying. Tim Keller has concisely and eloquently said, “If we play down ‘bad’ or harsh doctrines within the historic Christian faith, we will find, to our shock, that we have gutted all our pleasant and comfortable beliefs, too.” And this is certainly true with how we envision Jesus. Jesus is fully God and as such He is the same God of the Old Testament. Yes Jesus is fully loving as clearly demonstrated in His very condescension to man, His whole life lived, His death, and His resurrection for sinners! Yet He is also fully just and is the very One who will judge the world. This seems to easily slip past us very often. There is simply no way to escape this picture in the Scriptures. And it’s either true or it’s not.
If you really want to dive deep into the implications and ramifications of God’s grace and mercy to us in Christ, you really need to take the time to listen to this series of sermons on Romans 9 by John Piper. It is unfortunate these passages get skimmed over, ignored or nuanced to such a great degree there is nothing left but hollow theology. There is gold here if you will spend the time with it. Romans 9 answers these questions (though Romans 10-11 continues the answers as well):
- “If God has made such great promises to us in Christ that will NEVER fail (as explained in Romans 8), why is it that a majority of Israel rejected Christ, the only One who could save them?”
- “If all of Israel is not saved, and God’s promises have failed them, what are we to make of the promises of God given to us in Romans 8?”
- “Is God required to show mercy to everyone?”
- “Is God free to show mercy to whom He pleases?”
- “Is God bound by what the creature does or doesn’t do, or is He free to do as He pleases, to His own glory and for His own purposes?”
- “From where did our faith come from?”
“O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem…” – Daniel 9:16
In light of God’s justice and righteousness in the Old Testament, how he poured out his wrath on the nations surrounding Israel and even on Israel herself, this verse is such a radical, seemingly contradictory statement. If you simply do a surface-level study of what justice and righteousness actually means in theological terms, and particularly what it means for us sinners, it is goosebump-frightening to consider its reality. It should make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Seriously.
Think back to, or look up, Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1 and John’s response in Revelation to see what the reaction to God’s justice and holiness looks like. Or read this Jonathan Edwards sermon. It was one of His most famous. In it, Edwards expounds upon the awful wrath and fury of God we all deserve for our sin and how Christ is the only protector and shield from its horrors.
I was just considering what a great and wonderful God we serve (we who believe in Christ that is). Words cannot sum up how wonderful He is. First of all, He secured our eternal destinies by His blood out of pure love, from no other motivation other than to glorify Himself and show His immmense love toward us. By making a sacrifice at great expense to Himself, He secured our salvation so that we could spend eternity with Him, forever enjoying His presense, the way it was designed to be before the fall. I am so amazingly grateful not so much for material blessings (though I am greatly thankful for that), but more, I am so grateful that Christ purchased me on the cross with His blood. I would be totally lost, a ship without a rudder had it not been for His eternal sacrifice paid for by Christ bearing the wrath of God in Himself. He is so wonderful, majestic, creative, beautiful, glorious, powerful, sovereign, loving, kind, just, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, omnivorous (jk), patient, kind; He is everything I am not. Jesus Christ is what makes me whole. I praise God that He chose to save sinful, loathsome me from an eternity without Him. He is my all in all, my great Comforter. He is pure and holy, beyond expression. Praise God that Jesus Christ didn’t simply die but that He also rose from the grave by the power of God! With this wonderful hope in Christ, we will be raised to kingship to reign with Him for all eternity, forever glorifying the God of grace. And not only do we receive all of these eternal blessings (many not yet experienced to their fullest), but we get to experience them now (to a degree)! That is just wonderful and drives me to the cross to constantly experience His forgiveness and pardon based upon His finished work. Thank You, Father, that You did not abandon me to my sin, allowing me to pursue the desires of my heart to their fullest, thus hardening me to a life of sin and eternal damnation. Praise You God that You sought me and changed me when I was not seeking You. Praise You that You are the almighty King that for whatever reason (pure love) You decided to rescue me from my sin, myself, and the result of that life, hell. Jesus You are everything to me, and I pray You would pour out Your Holy Spirit in me that I may show you to all I come into contact with, that all may see and know that You are Lord, the Sovereign King, through which the whole world came into being. I love You. God is so amazingly gracious …