Audio Reading (0:05:00):
Everything began when God decided to have kids. He started with a Son, by whom he created everything else that exists, followed by human beings to whom he gave sovereignty and authority, like himself. He put them in charge of one small planet to see how they would respond to his directions and so he would know who deserves to inherit life for the long haul. In order to process the wrongs and bad results that such creatures would inevitably produce (though nobody is “born to be bad”) God made promises and gave rituals that raised expectations about his provision of an ultimate salvation from the curse of death that all of us must suffer because of our wrongdoing. Accordingly, God sent his uniquely born Son to be birthed as a human being and live into adulthood without doing wrong. Because of this he was endowed with a special degree of God’s Spirit beyond anyone else and thereby was enabled to teach with extraordinary authority and perform astonishing miracles as signs of God’s intention to completely restore his creation from wrongdoing and subsequent evils. In line with God’s rescue plan, he allowed Jesus to suffer unjust, aggravated abuse from his fellow human beings and even be tortured to death. This cruel outcome of his living entirely faithful and obedient to God’s directions and heart’s desire for human conduct within a world where wrong pervaded from the lowest to the highest levels of authority, set him up to become the object of God’s most unprecedented exhibit of divine restorative justice in history.
Still, it came as totally unexpected when (despite all his prophetic hints!) God reversed Jesus’ unjust condemnation by Jewish conspirators and Roman authorities, justifying him instead by raising him up alive from an officially executed, publicly witnessed and terribly agonizing death, thereby demonstrating and openly establishing the true nature and scope of divine uprightness and public justice once and for all. God simultaneously displayed the quality and magnitude of his graciousness by offering complete pardon to those who schemed to take his life if they would acknowledge that Jesus had indeed been his anointed Son all along and was now appointed Lord of all nations. This sequence of events proved decisively that God and Jesus actually were related as Father and Son, and that both were equally gracious to mankind even in the face of their misdeeds, by justly pardoning them although both had full rights to justly condemn the killers instead. As further proof of favor, God sent an amazing outpouring of his own Spirit to all who acknowledged and trusted the truth of this message so they could actually experience at present a tangible degree of God’s creation-restoring future Kingdom and thereby draw others into the knowledge of God’s graciousness and ultimate salvation as well.
God also warned that everyone who refused this pardon and kept violating his directions to life that Jesus had accurately transmitted would eventually be sadly destroyed as undeserving to inherit any part in his future Kingdom. The proof of this was the destruction of Jerusalem and its glorious temple in A.D. 70 in fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction concerning those who saw and heard him during his miraculous career and witnessed the equally astonishing sequel that unfolded through his personally trained, approved, and commissioned disciples, yet stubbornly hardened up and even committed further atrocities against them. The documents of the New Testament establish the authoritative pattern of God’s cycles of judgment regarding human conduct, showing his generously gracious intention of salvation for all, yet his rightful and unquenchable indignation against those who stay unrepentant and non-conciliatory toward his patient, tolerant, and mercifully repetitive invitations. Every individual who endures painful and even deadly opposition from such vicious and unrepentant persons, in trustful obedience to God’s desire as revealed by Jesus, can expect rewards of inconceivable splendor in a cleansed universe where all the pain and sorrow necessary to test the worth of our faith are a thing of the past, where tears shall be no more, and happiness will mount in the joyful accomplishment of achievements undiminished by harm, shame or loss of any sort.
© 2008, Ronald Lee Roper. Aug. 10-15, Oct. 8, 2008; revised Sept. 2, 2011, Oct. 2, 5, 2016.