I'm going to throw some theological words at you that I have learned from Bible school and my own study throughout the years.
I hope I don't lose you right off the bat.
Just hang in there.. Ready?
Propitiation ... This word basically means that Jesus died on the cross to appease God's need to punish sin.
Atonement... This word talks about making up for something that has been done wrong.
Example: I stole money from you, I will atone by cleaning your house for the rest of my life.
Redemption... this word is like a legal transaction. To Pay. Buying something back. Recovering something.
Justification... A way which people are made clean, pure, not guilty. A legal term.
Sanctification... A process which, when completed, will make a person holy, without blame. Set right.
Reconciliation... To bring two things that are at war with each other into harmonious relationship once again.
The words above have been made into various doctrines and belief systems to describe what Jesus did on the cross. Some of them come right from scripture, others come from famous theologians views on scripture.
What He did to take care of God's... WRATH.
Wrath... Think of all the words that would be synonymous with fierce anger, and you have wrath.
There is a song that always gets to me.
I cry pretty much every time I hear it.
It's called "In Christ Alone"
Take a listen, it's SO BEAUTIFUL to me.
However, there is a line in this song that I have had a hard time "reconciling" with as of late,
"Till on that cross, as Jesus died,
The wrath of God, was satisfied..."
Why do I have a hard time with it you ask?
Well, you see, it's the word WRATH. That word has been twisted in my head and heart over the years and I really feel it needs to be redeemed. (I hope you enjoy the irony of my word usage here!)
It's like all those other theological words. They can sometimes be explained in a way that can really cover up the LOVE that was behind that selfless act of Jesus dying on the cross for US.
Sometimes it seems the definition and the understanding of it properly, BECOMES Jesus.
So if you need to have a certain understanding of the word "wrath" or a certain understanding of what exactly happened on that cross to understand and embrace Jesus' love...
Then, is it really... "In Christ Alone"??
There is a term I learned long ago from reading a children's book. It helped ME to best understand what went down on that cross between God and Jesus and God who IS Jesus.
It's the phrase, "The Deep Magic". Found in CS Lewis' book,
"The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe."
I like this term best.
It really leaves the whole thing as it actually is... A Great Mystery.
People who cling with white knuckles to certain understandings of the cross might perhaps be angry at me for even challenging these terms and the many religious ways of understanding them. But I will take that "wrath", because I really feel that there is only one way to see these things.
That is through the eyes of Pure Love.
I believe that God is... Pure Love.
"These three remain, Faith, Hope and Love but the GREATEST of these is... LOVE" ~The Bible
I have heard a scenario that better explained what God's wrath was to me personally:
A story told by a former Pastor named, Wayne Jacobsen. He wrote a wonderful little book called,
"He Loves Me"
The story goes that he was camping with his family when his little toddler son stumbled across a nest of bees. They began attacking his son.
His wife, was in closer proximity to the son and she also had allergies to bees. Yet she immediately ran toward her son. He mentions seeing the look of utter fear on the son's face. The son was momentarily fearful of his own Mother and the look of rage she must have had! She began swinging fiercely at the bees in her wrath and whisked her frightened son away.
Her wrath was at the danger and the wretched things that were attacking her beloved son.
Not anger AT the son.
So too, I believe God's wrath is not against His children whom He DIED FOR because He LOVES; but against the STING of Death. (sin)
"Death HAS BEEN swallowed up in victory! Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting??"
Another comparison I really like, is how Jesus is likened to the chemotherapy that healed a Cancer! Just as chemotherapy can kill you, yet it can also kill the cancer and thereby HEAL you...
Jesus, taking all that He did on that cross because of His LOVE for us and then dying and coming to LIFE again.
Has healed the cancer of sin and death.
"God made Him, who had NO sin, to BE sin FOR US, so that in HIM, we might become the righteousness of God."
I understand and respect that some followers of Jesus have a deep need to believe that we were God's "enemies", that he could NOT be made right with us unless Jesus died in our place. Took the punishment "we deserve". Which is a fine way to look at the ~Deep Magic~ IF it causes your heart to rejoice and be thankful and especially if it causes you to Love God and Love others better.
But, I think, it is NOT the only way to look at it and often times it can present a mixed message of God's LOVE for us.
I looked at it exactly that way for many years. It's just been hard for me when sometimes followers of Jesus who believe this way, try to make myself and others feel as though we are evil or rebellious or not loving God, because we choose to only see it through eyes of a LOVING God not a wrathful God.
Not through the eyes of a systematic theology.
The God in John 3:16. The God who IS Jesus and was perfectly okay to come and hang out with "sinners" and they were not afraid of Him and He LIKED being with them.
He showed them His love as He walked the earth and He healed and He taught and He got angry at the self righteous and He was known for being a "friend of sinners" and He went to the cross and died and that Love, that Deep Magic Love, allowed Him to rise again!!!
I'd like to share a quote I found and really loved (not sure who's it is, sorry!)
"The Bible explains ~salvation~ in many ways: ransom, redemption, forgiveness, reconciliation, adoption, justification, etc.
That is because people understand their problem in different ways.
For those who feel dirty, Christ offers cleansing. For those who feel enslaved, he offers redemption, or purchase. For those who feel guilt, he gives forgiveness. For people who feel alienated and put at a distance, he offers reconciliation and friendship. For those who feel worthless, he gives an assurance of value. For people who don’t feel like they belong, he describes salvation as adoption and inheritance. For those who are aimless, he gives purpose and direction. For those who are tired, he offers rest. For the fearful, he gives hope. For the anxious, he offers peace. Salvation is all this, and more!!"
So whether He died and rose, because God was an angry God who can't stand people who sin (sorry, I just can't handle that one as much anymore), or because He had to buy us out of slavery, or pay for our sins, or make us "right with God"... Does it really matter so much HOW He did it but rather, WHY...
I have HOPE in the Sunday School answer.
Oh come on, you know it!!!
BECAUSE JESUS LOVES US!