Is God’s wrath too severe, his holiness too intense, his judgment too heavy? The measure of God’s love spans the reality of his wrath. Do not tell the Father that his wrath is too great, when he must direct it against his beloved Son! How much does the Father love his Son? The Son who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were created . . . the Son, the Firstborn, of whom God says, “I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son,” prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, glorify your name!” How much does the Father love the Son at Calvary as he takes the cup and is obedient to death? (Heb. 1:5). Most of Jesus’ disciples had fled. Yet his abandonment by them was not the cause of his cry. In a loud voice, he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This was the cup that he must drink—the cup of the wrath of God.
Never was God’s judgment more severe; it was the cup of damnation that is the penalty of rebellion, blasphemy, treachery, murder—the full blood of human hatred of God. Jesus, falsely convicted by men, bore the judgment of God. He who had committed no sin took the place of those who deserved the penalty he bore. On the cross the full severity of God’s wrath, the wrath of damnation, enveloped in darkness the suffering Son of God. The Father forsook his Son. He gave him up. No wonder the sun was veiled and the earth quaked.
The centurion at the cross said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” Did the Father love the world of sinners more than he loved his own Son? The mystery of Calvary is that God so loved the world that he gave his Beloved. We can use only human language, and say that the Father never loved the Son more than when he gave him on the cross. The Father’s giving was shown at Bethlehem, but fully on Golgotha. If God be for us, who can be against us? If God gave his Son for us, what will he withhold? Indeed, the gift was in God’s heart before the world was made. John 3:16 does not say that God so loved his Son that he gave him the world. That is true, but the more astounding truth is that God so loved the world that he gave his Son. The measure of God’s love is that for the world of lost sinners who were his enemies, the Father gave his Son, and in giving his Son, gave himself. Yes, you have doubts; you have fears. You are sometimes bewildered. But go to the very depths of your doubts and gather them all up; take your unsolved problems, all the whys that come from the anguish of your heart, whys that grow out of major tragedies, whys when you do not understand.
Just bring your whys, your questions, to God. But come there to stay. Come there to watch Jesus Christ. Come there to listen while the God-man in his human nature cries out, “Why?” Then do not say that the Father’s wrath against sin is too much. “Who knoweth the power of thine anger?” Moses asks in Psalm 90 (v. 11, KJV). We know the answer. Jesus Christ through the power of the Father knew it, because he bore it. We must proclaim that the wrath of God is real, for God is just, and we are vile sinners. But we proclaim God’s judgment in the message of the gospel. Praise God. We proclaim it in the name of Jesus.
Adapted from Preaching Christ in All of Scripture by Edmund Clowney