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CHRIST SAVES US FROM THE RIGHTEOUS, HOLY, AND NECESSARY WRATH OF GOD
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Thursday, 2nd Week of Easter, April 11, 2013
Acts 5:27-33, Ps. 33, John 3:31-36


"He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth belongs to the earth, and of the earth he speaks; he who comes from heaven is above all" (John 3:31).


Jesus Christ is the man from heaven, from above, from the splendor of the Father, sent by the Father to the earth for the life of the world. He was sent by God to save us from the wrath of God against our sins. Those who believe in him are shielded from the righteous, just, holy, and necessary wrath of an all-just God against all sin, while those who do not believe in him remain in this wrath. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him" (John 3:36). Christ was sent by the Father to satisfy divine justice by his death and thus placate the just, holy, and necessary wrath of God. "Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God" (Rom. 5:9). And indeed God has a holy and righteous wrath against all sin, "for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth" (Rom. 1:18). But the all-just God himself sent us his own Son to absorb this righteous and necessary wrath into himself, in his body, on the cross, instead of us suffering it.


Thus "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree'--" (Gal. 3:13). The curse of the law of God is that the sinner die for his sins in punishment for them (Rom. 6:23). Christ suffered this curse, this punishment of death, instead of us, in our place, on our behalf, to free us from it, experiencing in himself on the cross all the holy and righteous wrath of an all-just God against all the sins of the world. This is why the Father sent his Son, so that we might believe in him and so be freed from this wrath through his blood.


Christ came from above for this; and if we do not believe in him, the wrath of God remains upon us for our sins--and justly so. "He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him" (John 3:36). "You will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he" (John 8:24). Christ came to save us from our sins and from God's wrath against us because of our sins; but if we refuse to believe in him, we will remain in our sins and in God's wrath, and we will die in our sins.


But if we believe in him, putting our trust completely in him and in his saving work on the cross, he himself will bear in himself our just punishment for our sins for us, and we will not come into condemnation. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life" (John 5:24). Christ is the source of life, life with God, eternal life. His blood protects us from the wrath of God, as the blood of the Passover lamb protected the Israelites from the plague of the death of the firstborn. The new Passover lamb, like the old one, was sacrificed instead of us to shield us from this death-striking divine wrath, bearing it in himself, and so bringing us who believe in him salvation and eternal life. We therefore rejoice, "for Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed" (1 Cor. 5:7).

 

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