April 23, 2020 (Thursday) - The Wrath of God? - A Reflection on John 3:31-36

(John the Baptist said:) The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

“Whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.” Ohhh, I hope I don’t spoil your breakfast, but I am gonna talk about the wrath of God today, because I think somebody needs to. Most of the sermons we hear are all about how God loves us so much, he will never ever punish us, but that is not entirely true. A love that does not allow for the infliction of pain is not real love. You may want to read that last sentence again. A love that does not allow for the infliction of pain is not real love.

I know there are gonna be people who will take exception to this, so let me tell you a parable to explain what I mean. A boy got into the habit of stealing little trinkets, which he would take to his mother, who never rebuked him. On the contrary she expressed her delight with these little “gifts” that came her way. As the boy grew older into a man, he stole more and more items of greater and greater value. Then, one day, in the act of committing a robbery, he killed somebody. He was caught and sentenced to death.

As he was being led away, he saw his mother wailing loudly. He asked for permission to have a brief word with her, and when he got it, he called out to her to come to him for a final kiss. She went up to him, and he bent forward as if to plant a kiss on her cheek, but instead bit her ear off. His horrified mother asked him why he did that. He said to her, 'Mother, if only you had punished me when I brought you the first trinket that I stole, then I would not have been condemned to death!'

At the start of this month we had reflected on freedom (https://youtu.be/5ZS4qn9MvFM). I had said that freedom is not the ability to do whatever we want to do. Freedom is the ability to be what we were meant to be by God. If God wants to help me become that, then he has to allow for pain when we move away from becoming my true self. Jesus said, “I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1-2). Both cutting and pruning are painful.

If we understand this, then we will understand the wrath of God. It isn’t him having a temper tantrum. It is him trying to get us on the path towards receiving his mercy and forgiveness. Has he anything to do with the Coronavirus? Well, he most certainly hasn’t caused it; but he is using it for our good. Remember when your kids were naughty and you sent them to their rooms to have a think about things. Well, I think God has used the virus to send us all to our rooms to have a think about things too because we’ve all been naughty.

Have a good think!