Whoever Has Seen Me . . .

Saint_Ann's_Church_of_Cantoral_de_la_Peña_004Thoughts shared recently with a brother who believes the purpose of Christ’s death was to satisfy God’s righteous need for vengeance on sinners:

The scriptures you quoted are precious to me, too; Isaiah 53 has the power to bring me to tears. I am not sure how you interpret them, but I gather you feel these scriptures demonstrate that God punished Jesus for our sins. Surely, there are mysteries here, and I have seen again and again that what we find in Scripture has much to do with what we bring to it.

All I will say is that many of these scriptures appear in an entirely different light depending on how we view the nature of God and his heart toward mankind. Is God first and foremost a loving father, who, like all the best fathers, sets limits for us, punishes us, and even grows angry with us, because he loves us too much to stand aside while sin ruins our relationship with him and destroys our nature? Or is he more of a stern, distant monarch who becomes enraged when his will is crossed and punishes transgressors to satisfy his own offended honor?

In answering that question, we have one mighty aid; the life of Jesus. God has walked among us; we now know, without a shade of doubt, who was behind the veil all the time. We have seen sinners brought before him, “caught in the very act,” and we have seen what he did and said to them. Only by reading the Old Testament through the new lens of Jesus, fleshing out every appearance of God in the story with that image—the King who ate and drank with sinners, loved little children, washed his disciples’ feet, and let his enemies to spit in his face without one vindictive word—only thus can we hope to understand more of God than the Pharisees did. For me, it has made all the difference in the world.


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