Posts Tagged "John 18:19–2"

A God Beaten

March 20, 2019
By Rev. David French

You need a God you can punch. You really do. You might not think so. You probably think you’re more pious than that. And it’s probably not how you usually think about God. You think you need a God who will hold your hand as He walks with you and talks with you in some surreal garden in your mind. You think you need Him to lift you onto His shoulders as you’re walking along the beach together, leaving footprints in the sand. You think you need a God who is really, really, big. But you don’t. You actually need a God whose lip you can fatten with a well-placed right cross.

This is the human predicament. Since Adam’s rebellion in the garden, since he ran and hid himself at the sound of God walking in the garden, mankind has been alienated from God. Nothing had changed in God, of course. But everything had changed in Adam and all those born in his image. Adam wanted to be his own god, and so, he turned away from his Creator and the source of his life. You see only a dying Adam would flee from a perfect and Holy Creator.

Since that time, rebellion has been fallen man’s dilemma. Enmity with a holy God is all that sinners have. Sinners hate God. He is holy and they are not. His Law is an offense to their do-it-yourself divinity schemes. God calls His people to be holy just as He is holy. Jesus demanded perfect righteousness, just as the heavenly Father is righteous. No matter what you score on the self- righteousness assessment you take of yourself every morning, you simply are not only not as good as you think you are, you and I and all who are born of sin are simply not good.

The Law is absolute. The Commandments allow no wiggle room, not for a moment and not from the least part of the Law. The result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience was they were banished from the garden, alienated from God, and on their own.

No wonder people prefer a god of their own creation to the Holy God of Scripture, who demands that your holiness perfectly match His. We rather have a god whose son is a good-teacher, or a life-coach, or a model-CEO, or a moral-example, or a nice-guy, or a guru, he would be a perfect fit for your sinful nature. I mean that, let’s call him “Jesus”, wouldn’t have gotten struck in the face, verbally abused, crowned with thorns, whipped, beaten to a pulp, nailed to a cross, or killed. That “Jesus” would have found a god pleasing (that’s with a lower-case g) a god pleasing way to bring everyone together and guide them in working out their differences.

But that god can’t save you. He’s fake, a figment of your imagination. Adam didn’t need a god who encourages him to do better next time. He had eaten. He had disobeyed, rebelled. He is a sinner. And now he needs a God who can plead his case, who will take up his cause, who will bear his flesh and do in his place what he failed to do. He needs a holy God who will offer His holiness as a gift. He needs a God with human flesh who keeps the Law perfectly. He needs a God with a face that can be punched.

Unless He can bear your hatred, God can’t save you. Unless He can receive your blows, God can’t bear your sins. So behold God has become man. Jesus is the God you can punch and He has drawn near, not in wrath, but in mercy.

Behold the man who has come to seek fallen humanity. In Jesus, God walks in the midst of His creation again. And His desire is to draw all men out of their hiding, out of their sin and their shame and unto Himself. Behold, in Jesus God and man are one!

Now the Creator’s question: “Where are you, Adam?” has become “Why do you strike Me?” When asked about His teaching, Jesus answers, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.” And in response Annas commands one of the officers to strike Him in the face. Behold, this is your God and He has a face that can be struck, a back that can be scourged, and hands that can be tied as He is sent to Caiaphas.

Behold the God who allow Himself to be struck by the sinners He seeks to redeem. Behold the servant who will suffer in your place. Behold the One despised and rejected by men, the One who no one esteemed. Behold Him pierced for your transgressions, crushed for your iniquities.

Behold the man upon whom is the chastisement, the punishment that has brought you peace. Behold the wounds by which you are healed. Behold, this is the One who has borne your griefs and carried your sorrows. Behold the man who in your place was stricken, smitten and afflicted by His heavenly Father.

In His flesh, Jesus bears all of mankind’s sinful, rebellious hatred of God. He receives the blows the lashes, the mocking, the being forsaken by God that you and I deserve. All this He gladly suffers for you and for all.

You see His holiness is a gift He gives, not to those who deserve it, but to those who least deserve it. He has borne all of man’s hatred of God, and all the Father’s punishment for man’s rebellion, and He has answered for them with His face, His back, His life.

The solution to your hatred of God, to your desire to punch Him in the face, is not to clench your fists, bite your tongue, and hide what is inside of you. The solution is to confess, to speak in unison with the Law what you know to be true. Your flesh is sinful. It does not desire God. And then, even though you also would have raised a hand against Him, Jesus sends His under-shepherds, His pastors, those men called to pronounce His word of Absolution.

That is as you confess your sin, the pastor raises a hand, not to strike, but to comfort you as He pronounces the verdict of Easter morning: In the stead and by the command of the God-man who bore all your sins, I forgive you in the name of the Father an of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus turns the other cheek. God turns from wrath to mercy. Behold the man who would rather endure shameful abuse at the hands of sinners than allow sinners to have to answer for their own sins. Baptized into Him, you are made holy and whole through His gift of grace, a gift motivated by love, paid for with the blood of His Son, and freely offered to you again this day.

                                                      In His Name, Amen.

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