By Kathy Johnston
Saved from God’s Wrath
Are you saved? If so, what is it exactly you are saved from?
Talk about “being saved” is common in Christian circles. But if you stopped to ask a Christian what they are saved from, I think most would say they are saved from their sins. But is that really it?
It is true that we are saved from the power of sin through Jesus Christ, but I think a better question might be “What or whom are we saved from?”
I love what R.C. Sproul said about this:
“God, in righteous wrath, stands against us in our sin. But the glory of the gospel is that the one from whom we need to be saved is the very one who saves us. It is when we truly grasp the significance of Christ’s redeeming work that we begin to understand the serious demands and joys of repentance.”
Until we recognize and agree with God that our sin absolutely deserves his wrath and judgment, we will never be able to fully experience the depth of his grace, mercy and unfathomable love. The sacrifice he made becomes even more astounding.
Jesus understood this more than anyone ever could. He knew the devastation, death and separation from God that sin had brought from that moment in the Garden in Genesis 3…to this very day. He also knew that there was just judgment that must come because of it. It could not be ignored or passed over.
It was the overwhelming weight of God’s judgment and wrath that Jesus had on his mind as he agonized in the garden. It wasn’t so much the crucifixion that he feared, but it was the cup of wrath he faced. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42).
I’m sure that in his humanity, he was dreading the physical torture he was about to endure, but there was something much more terrifying and crushing that he was gripped by. It was something on a scale that we will never be able to wrap our minds around. What was this cup that was set before him there in the garden?
Throughout the Bible, a cup is used to symbolize God’s judgment (Jeremiah 25:15-17, Psalm 75:8, Habakkuk 2:16, Revelation 14:9-10). It represents horror, evil, shame and death. It is a cup filled to the brim with the awful, righteous wrath of a holy God against the sinfulness of mankind.
The Father had asked him to drink it. And so he did. As he hung there on that cross in more physical pain then we can fathom, he began to drink from that cup. For hours he hung there as the fury of God’s wrath was poured out onto his only Son.
Our sin became his sin. The perfect, sinless One became sin for us. And his perfect life became our perfect life. “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)
He became all that we were: a liar, murderer, thief, child molester, porn addict, drug addict, adulterer, gossiper… Every evil thing that mankind can think of, he became. Our perfect, sinless Savior took on himself, the full fury of God’s wrath for our sin. Finally after he had emptied the cup, taking on the crushing weight of punishment for our sin, he cried out, “It is finished.”
Oh what heart-wrenching, emotional pain it must have been for the Father to pour out his wrath onto his own Son, and then to turn his back as Jesus cried out to him in agony, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”?
That was the cup that Jesus was terrified by in the garden. But he did not shrink back from it. He took it willingly out of obedience to the Father, and love for those that would choose to call him Lord.
The cup was emptied. The work was done. Jesus had purchased our pardon with his blood there on that cross. Redemption was complete. Jesus would again be reunited with his Father.
“Who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
Our sins would no longer be counted against us! We were no longer under God’s wrath! Mankind could once again have fellowship with God and eternal life through believing faith in the work of Jesus Christ!
I love this quote from C.J. Mahaney’s book “Living the Cross Centered Life”:
“Who killed Jesus?
God did. God the Father was ultimately responsible for the death of His Son. God is telling us, ‘I purposefully determined to crush my Son with my wrath—for your sins, as your substitute.’
Why? ‘Because I love you.’”
“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him, he has put him to grief.” (Isaiah 53:10)
This is what we have been saved from!
“And that’s the glory of the gospel, that the one from whom we need to be saved is the very one who loves us and saves us!” – R.C. Sproul
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom