Monday, October 15, 2018

Surprised by God's Mercy

Unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:5b).

Jesus had been speaking of the coming judgment of God when the righteous would be blessed and the wicked punished. In this context, a man asked Him about some Galileans “whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices” (Luke 13:1). These men had been offering sacrifices to God, in obedience, yet they had been brutally slain. Where was God when all of this happened?

The Bible provides a number of answers to questions about suffering. For instance, as the book of Job teaches, we do not always know God’s reasons, but we know He has a holy purpose for everything He allows to happen. Also, suffering in this world lasts only an instant compared to eternity. However, Jesus answers the question about suffering another way: He says we deserve to suffer.

“Do you think,” asked Jesus, “that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (vv. 2–3). The crowd might have thought, “Well, these Galileans must have been worse than the rest of us for this to happen to them.” Jesus rejects that thought. He says that all men stand under God’s judgment, and, apart from His mercy, all would be destroyed.

Our problem is we tend to become so accustomed to God’s mercy that we have begun to think we deserve it. Then we are astonished when we suffer. Jesus says we should not be surprised at suffering; rather, we should be amazed that we do not suffer more. What is truly astonishing is that so many live without excruciating suffering.

Most of us wonder, “Why do I suffer so much?” Yet, do any of us ever ask, “Why is it that I suffer so little when I deserve to suffer so much?” I am afraid most of us believe God owes us a life free of suffering and heartache. Yet, if we really understand the depth of our sinfulness, we will not be surprised by suffering, but by mercy.

The problem of pleasure is perhaps more difficult than the problem of pain. Why is God good at all to fallen sinners is the really profound question. Enjoy God’s goodness and benefits to you today both through grateful prayer and testimony to others.

Daily Podcast:

Strengthened by Grace Episode 17 - "The Trinity - Part 3" - Our host, Matthew Dowling, discusses the cultish rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity and the personal aspects of the Holy Spirit.