Christmas and the Wrath of God
God put [Jesus] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
- Romans 3:25
As you spend this week considering the coming judgment of Jesus, keep in mind that Christmas declares that God is willing to meet the demands of his justice through a substitute, for Jesus came the first time not to punish sinners but to die in their place.
God’s law calls us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, but we have loved other things more. This is the essence of sin – dishonoring God by loving other things more than him. Since we all do this, the Bible rightly says that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
At times we are tempted to think that our sin isn’t serious, but it is. John Piper captures the seriousness of sin in these words, “Sin is not small because it is not against a small Sovereign. The seriousness of an insult rises with the dignity of the one insulted. The Creator of the universe is infinitely worthy of respect and admiration and loyalty. Therefore, failure to love him is not trivial – it is treason. It defames God and destroys human happiness.”
Since sin is serious and God is just, he can’t sweep sin under the rug; instead he must deal with it. So in the Bible we are told it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, the wages of our sin is death, and at one time we were all objects of God’s wrath. These words are not idle threats flowing from a cranky God. Instead they are words that flow from a just God who cannot pass over sin. Eventually, God has to do something about the human heart, which lives in rebellion to him. Eventually, God has to confront the kingdom of Satan and death that threatens to undo his good creation. Being who he is, God cannot allow evil to exist forever.
And yet in a remarkable turn of events, God was not content to simply pour out his wrath on us; instead he wanted to reveal his love. So God sent Jesus, the second member of the Holy Trinity, into our world to absorb God’s wrath and to bear sin’s punishment for all who trust him. Paul says it well in Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” In other words, God wants to save us from judgment, but he will not save us without judgment. So the first time Jesus came, he came to be our substitute. He came to die in our place and for our sins. He came to absorb the wrath of God.
If God were not just, there would be no Christmas because there would be no demand for Jesus to die. Additionally, if God were not loving, there would be no Christmas because there would be no willingness for God himself to meet the demands of justice. But Christmas declares that God is just and loving. He is willing to meet the demands of his justice, for Jesus was born to die.
A Moment to Reflect
When did Jesus save you from God’s wrath? Share your story with your friends and family today.
 Romans 3:23
 The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper
 Hebrews 10:31, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:3