God comforts the victim

The gospel of Jesus Christ is completely unintelligible. It is foreign to us. It is not like us to extend the kind of grace that God extends to us. It’s inhuman. It’s divine. It’s beautiful. One of the most beautiful things about the gospel is this grace that God shows to us. And I’ve heard people describe grace as unmerited favor. Pretty good description. I do not deserve by my merits the favor that God has shown me.
In some ways I have heard people describe the gospel as wonderfully unfair. It’s not fair that God should extend forgiveness to a sinner like me. Well, I understand the sentiment, but there is a way in which God justifies his forgiveness of the unrighteous that makes it actually fair. It’s not merited on our part, but it is merited. Let me explain that.

If I were to sin against you in a grievous way, and you were to say to me, “Mark, I forgive you, brother. Don’t worry about it. Everything’s cool. I forgive you.” Well, I might feel really good about that. I might accept your forgiveness and feel humbled by it. But what if we were to take it a step further? Examine the case of a woman who is happily married to a loving husband and that husband is brutally and wrongfully murdered. His life is taken from him unjustly. What if God were to say to that woman, “Though your beloved husband was murdered unjustly, his murderer repented of his sins at the last moment before he died. I just want you to know I extended total forgiveness to that guy.”

How now is the wife to feel if God has extended complete forgiveness to her husband’s murderer? It’s a little difficult. Well, it depends on what forgiveness actually is when it’s done correctly. Forgiveness is not God just looking down at us and saying, “Hey, you don’t really deserve for me to forgive you, but I’m going anyway because you did some other good things and so I’m going to give you a pass here. I’m going to sneak it in the back door. Don’t tell anybody how you got into heaven because you and I both know that you don’t deserve to be here. Just keep it on the down low.” That’s not how God’s forgiveness works. God justifies his forgiveness by pouring out vengeance on the sinner.

Vengeance and wrath is a part of the justification of forgiveness. There is a penalty for sin. There is wrath that is due for unrighteous behavior. And in the case of the gospel, the wrath and the penalty has been shifted from the person who committed sin, you and me and the murderer of this woman’s husband, to Jesus. He lived a perfect life and, by merit of his life, was able to take in his body the terrible death and destruction on the cross along with the wrath and punishment of God for our sins. In other words, God has not just said, “I forgive you, don’t worry about it.” He has justified his forgiveness by pouring out wrath on Jesus on the cross.

So the question before us today is, how does God comfort those who are victims of unjust shedding of innocent blood, such as the aborted child and the wife of the deceased husband? Well, he comforts those people by promising to pour out vengeance on the perpetrators of unrighteousness. He pours out vengeance each and every time. Punishment is due each and every time sin is committed.

Let me read you a verse. This is from Psalm 9:12, it says, “For he who avenges blood is mindful of them. He does not forget the cry of the afflicted.” In other words, those who have been unjustly murdered, their blood cries out to God from the ground in the same way Abel’s blood cried out to God from the murder that Cain inflicted upon him. And God said, “Vengeance is mine. I will repay the unrighteousness. I will visit affliction on the unrighteous for their wicked deeds.”

There is another example from 2 Thessalonians. This is a mind bending example. “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God for which you are also suffering. Since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you.” I’m going to repeat that last portion. God considers it just or right or fair to “repay with affliction those who afflict you and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven,” then it goes on.

God is just and right to repay with affliction those who afflict the unborn baby that was murdered in the womb. God is just to repay with affliction the murderer of the husband so that the woman knows if God has forgiven, it is not because he just said, “I forgive and forget, don’t worry about it.” He has repaid with affliction those who did the wrong. In this case, God will either destroy the murderer and punish him eternally for his wickedness, or he will, by unmerited favor and by virtue of the fact that this person placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior before they died, see Jesus in the place of the murderer. Either way, the woman is comforted by knowing that vengeance was visited upon the perpetrator of wickedness.

In each and every case, sin is atoned for. It is punished. It is paid for, and the wrath of God is satiated in each and every case without exception. The question today is, will your unrighteous behavior be paid for by Jesus as God visits Jesus with affliction and wrath and vengeance for what you have done or will His vengeance and wrath be upon you for what you have done? The only difference between the two is a faith decision. Understanding that God has made a way through the death and resurrection of Jesus for your sins to be paid for.

Brother, sister, no matter who you are, no matter where you are, I encourage you to bend the knee to Jesus Christ. Let Him take on the vengeance and the wrath that is due for your unrighteous behavior. Give your heart to Jesus and trust him as God pours out affliction on Jesus rather than on you. I beg you to do that today for your own sake and for the glory of God Almighty.