In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. In previous weeks we’ve been looking at how Christ was humbled in order to bring us eternal life. We’ve seen that Christ was humiliated throughout his life on earth and also by his death which involved Judas’ betrayal, the disciples’ desertion, the world’s rejection, the condemnation of Pilate, the torment of his persecutors and his begging God for the removal of God’s wrath. This week I want to show that Jesus was humbled by experiencing the wrath of God.
We do not enjoy someone being wrathful toward us. Firstly there is the emotional and even physical pain that is inflicted upon us by the person. And few people actually enjoy pain. Then there is also the humiliation that comes as someone bears down upon you in all their anger and makes you suffer as a result. Let’s be honest, if we were more powerful, we would avoid such wrath altogether for the rest of our lives – we’d hide behind powerful safeguards to prevent people from hurting us in such a way.
Yet Jesus also experienced the humility of someone being angry with him and punishing him. And that person was God the Father.
The Bible tells us that when Jesus was crucified, he became sin for us: ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
God cannot allow sin to go unpunished and therefore when Jesus became our sin he also became the object of God’s wrath and was punished accordingly.
Paul tells us that Jesus experienced the wrath of God. He says that Jesus is the one who ‘rescues us from the coming wrath’ (1 Thessalonians 1:10). If we have been rescued from God’s wrath, then someone must have experienced that wrath. And that person was Christ, the rescuer.
Moreover, we see God’s wrath is experienced by Jesus at the cross. Firstly, when Jesus is crucified darkness (which is often associated with sin, anger and punishment) comes on the earth: ‘From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land’ (Matthew 27:45). Also, at this time, Jesus is shown to be experiencing the wrath of God by what he himself says: ‘About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”‘ (Matthew 27:46). Clearly, Jesus is not experiencing the love of God here, but the anger of God.
So why would Jesus humble himself by allowing this to happen? Because of our sin we deserve to be humiliated for eternity in hell. But thankfully Jesus takes the eternal humility we deserve so we can have eternal glory instead. This eternal glory comes by trusting that Jesus was humiliated for you by experiencing the wrath of God in all its fullness.
Do you trust in Christ’s humiliation for you so that you will have eternal glory in heaven?