Monday, April 2, 2012

Is Jesus gonna Rage on YOU?

While driving across town a while back, my 5 year old son Joe, asked his brother Ty (4 yrs old); “Hey Ty, do you know if Jesus is going to throw a rage on you?  

That question originated a few days previous, when Joe and I were talking about Jesus.  He wanted me to tell him again about Easter, and since we driving a long ways I figured I’d start at the beginning of “Holy Week,” or the last week before Jesus was crucified.  In Matthew 21, we see Jesus enter Jerusalem triumphantly.  This is what we commemorated yesterday on “Palm Sunday.”    Jesus is praised as he rides into the city on a donkey. 

After that, (Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19) he enters the Temple where he becomes incensed at the way that God’s holy ‘house of prayer’ has been turned into a commercial center.   The temple has been desecrated by religious Mafioso’s making money, and conducting shady business.    People come to worship God, but they end up being swindled by thieves.   There is a misplaced focus that is both distracting and profane and what’s really being stolen is more than monetary.  People are being led astray and the atmosphere is impeding worship and communion with God.  

Infuriated by the blasphemy of it all, Jesus makes a whip  and starts spankin’ some people!  (Hey Jesus....what are you making? You're a good braider!...Oh dude!  Watch out!  It's getting crazy!!!)  He comes unglued and starts running around yelling, turning the tables over, dumping money boxes, breaking stuff and absolutely trashing the place.   Wood splinters, scales clank and animals run free!  His anger is righteous as he confronts sin and idolatry with violent action.   

I really like this story, and my boy Joe was already familiar with this story of Jesus “throwing a rage.”    God is not passive, and Jesus didn’t just wander around spouting platitudes in a calm sounding voice!  He is intense, passionate and even buck wild!   But, as we talked about Jesus’ strength and active opposition to sinfulness;  Joe asked genuinely “How do we know Jesus won’t throw a rage on us some day?” 

“How do we know Jesus won’t throw a rage on us 
some day?” 

I stopped and said to him; “that is an awesome question bud!”

Joe, in his thoughtful way asked this question with awareness that we are sinful.  It’s easy for us to read the Bible and imagine that we are different than the “robbers” conducting business in the temple courts, but my son already knows that we really aren’t.  Those guys were living for themselves,  they were looking out for number one, they exalted and trusted in money, they lacked integrity.  They were caught up and consumed with worldly affairs.   At the core they were self-centered and un-concerned with the Glory of God.   And that’s how all of us are!  He figured "if they deserved a whippin, don't we also?" 

We affirm openly and often in our family the truth that everyone sins, (Rom. 3:23) that our rebellious sin nature compels all to sin and fall short of God’s glorious standard.  So, if God actively hates sin, how do we know that God won’t throw a rage on us some day?    Should we live in fear that at any moment God’s long fuse is going to come to an end and he’ll lash out with destruction towards us?   

If we are Christians, the answer to that question is NO, and here is what I reminded Joe of.  God hates sin, and as he demonstrates at various points in the Bible his wrath against it is active and effective.   And the truth is, that we actually deserve to die because of our animosity towards God.  Put  very simply, our badness is not compatible with God’s goodness.  (Romans 6:23)  But that’s why God  sent Jesus (his Son) to die on the cross.  What happened on the cross is that Jesus bore the sin of the world –Paul even says he actually “became sin” (2Corinthians 5:21) and took the punishment for us, the punishment we deserve. (John 3:16)  The nails were agonizing, certainly, but the real pain of the cross was from God the father who inflicted the son, and abandoned him. (Isaiah 53) The righteous beat-down given to the money-changers in the temple was nothing compared to what Christ endured on the cross.    Before he died, Jesus said “it is finished”.  (John 19:30)

Three days later, he rose.  And just this morning, sitting around the breakfast table, Joe reminded us that as Christians, we can be sure that God won’t throw a rage on us because Jesus already took the rage on the cross.   That’s grace!

Jesus already took God's rage on the cross. 

Of course, if you choose not to follow Jesus and to reject him as savior then you don’t have that peace.  Let the temple story remind you that God’s hate for sin is real, and his rage is effective.  

1 comment:

  1. Bro, I love you so much. I cannot get enough of your raw take on things in the bible - well in this case I guess it's your kids. I pray that God is comforting you and your family still. I desperately hope to see you this summer in Wildwood.
    Much Love, Joe