Man, I find it all the time. How can God be so bad? Do you mean that just because people don’t believe, or don’t go to church every Sunday, they will go to hell?
I feel like an ambulance driver trying to get to the scene of a multi-car and truck accident that has blocked the freeway for miles on both sides and caused even more setbacks as people crash into those already stopped. Where do you start
I think a good place to start is Jesus. That is always the best place to unravel the mysteries of God. When he preached his first sermon in the synagogue of his hometown, Nazareth, he gave an answer to everyone, an answer that answers the two questions before us today.
An answer to all
1. Why are people saved?
2. How can God be so cruel to send people to hell?
“Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And they gave him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. And he unrolled it. The scroll and he found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the captives and to restore sight to the poor. blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (16-19). “
What a beautiful passage Jesus chose to preach to the people of his hometown, the people he had grown up with and whose lives he knew. He knew his poverty. He knew the aches and pains of old carpenters and stone workers, the loss of sight of those who had lived long enough to escape other deaths. He had felt the oppression of the Roman government as well as they. And he had an answer, the true answer, the good news of the Gospel of forgiven sins.
You see, when Isaiah wrote these words, God’s people were not experiencing any of those things. They had a good life, they were nobody’s slaves. Externally. But God does not look at the external circumstances of our lives. Look at the heart. And in the heart, God saw sin. That’s what Isaías was talking about, in pictorial language. Sin holds us all captive. The good that we want to do, we do not. The evil that we do not want to do, we do. Each of us is blinded by flattery or prejudice – towards ourselves! This is why it is so easy to identify the other person’s faults and overlook our many shortcomings. Every day we are crushed by “the man”. Oh, not by God, but by the devil. The Bible says that he is the ruler of this age. It wears us down with constant temptations, sexy ads here, temptations to drunkenness and envy. Encourage others to try to tear down what we have accomplished.
We need a break. We need debt forgiveness, debt forgiveness of our sin. We need corrective lenses to see life as God sees it. We need someone to buy us out of the bondage of sin. And that’s what Jesus meant when he spoke of the “year of the Lord’s favor.” A time of forgiveness of debts, forgiveness of sins, not of probation, but of total and free forgiveness.
That is the Gospel. That’s the news that God is willing to forgive all your sins and take them freely to heaven, because that’s the kind of God He is. Love, forgive and give.
And then Jesus delivers the closest one, showing how God is going to do these great things for them. “And he rolled up the scroll and handed it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them: ‘Today this Scripture that you hear (20-22) has been fulfilled.’ “
He was the anointed proclaimer of peace through the forgiveness of sins. Jesus was the deliverer sent by God to open the prisons of sin and death and set people free. It was the healer prescribed by the Father to open our eyes and see all the good gifts that God had to give in this life and in the life to come. Jesus was the way to heaven. Jesus was the payment that would settle the debt of our sins. Jesus was the Savior Isaiah spoke of. Why are people saved? Jesus is the answer for everyone. They are saved only by the message and work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
And it still is. I have lived among you long enough to know your pain, your anguish, your wounds and diseases. I know your life is not easy. And everyone else in the world, looking at us, would wonder what the hell I’m talking about: we are Americans! We have it done! But we are also sinners, we live in a world full of sin and that is what makes this life difficult and that is what finally brings this life to an end. The wages of sin is death. It has been since Adam and Eve and will be until Jesus comes again in the Last Day. We cannot undo the ravages of time, we cannot make up for the sins of our past. Absolutely powerless to retract a single wicked word. Too poor to buy back a second try on that day that went horribly wrong. We need Jesus. He alone is the answer to all our ills. With his forgiveness, with heaven secured by his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, we can move on knowing that he will help us. We are saved only by the message and the word of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
An answer for everyone. How can God be so cruel to send people to hell? To help us answer that question, let’s see how this wonderful sermon of Jesus ended.
“And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that came out of his mouth. And they said: ‘Is not this the son of Joseph (22)? “
They think about his words. Wow, they sounded good. But wait! How can this child be the Savior? He’s Joseph’s son! They reject God’s offer of forgiven sins because they reject the Savior God has sent. Maybe they were waiting for Superman.
Jesus will not allow these people to slip out of God’s fingers so easily. Keep trying to show them how horrible they are about to do and how often God has worked in ways that were, let’s say, unexpected.
They hoped that if a man was a doctor, he would do so and could help his own cause by prescribing his own medicine and giving his own diagnosis. I’ll overlook the wisdom of that thought: These people were gang members from Nazareth, after all. Jesus should at least blow his own horn if he were the Savior. Do some miracles between us and we will believe. But remember what I told you last week: miracles do not convert the unbeliever. They are only designed to strengthen the faith of believers. Jesus shows them that often the men sent by God received rough treatment among their own, in fact, they were unable to work among their own due to the unbelief they encountered.
And right here they are starting to get horny because who is Jesus to claim that he is the Savior and that they are disbelievers just because they don’t believe his crazy story?
But that is why God is forced to work the way He does. The disbelief of the man narrows his options. Eight hundred years earlier, in the days of Elijah, there were many hungry people in Israel, but did God send Elijah to them? No, he sent Elijah to a widowed woman in a foreign country, where Elijah miraculously kept her and her son alive. And later, when the next prophet was alive, Elisha, there were many sick people in Israel, but did God miraculously heal them? No. He healed a foreigner who had come all that way because he trusted in the God of Israel.
And that’s when the good people of Nazareth had heard enough. “They were all filled with anger. And they got up and threw him out of the city and carried him to the top of the hill on which their city was built, so that they could throw him off the cliff. But passing through the middle of them, left (28-30) “.
You see, after all, they weren’t that good. Their hearts were hard, their minds murderous, their hands quick to act. How much self-righteousness does it take to get the preacher out of the church? Oh, but don’t stop there. How much cheek do you have to have to keep pushing him, taking him out of town? I suppose tar and feathers were in short supply in Nazareth. Oh, but don’t stop there. What must fill your heart to be a judge, jury and executioner wrapped in one who wants to push Jesus off the cliff where your city was built so that he falls and dies?
Nice people, huh? Now, how can God be so cruel to send people to hell?
What a fool! Is God making these people do these terrible things? Is God playing a twisted puppeteer just to give Jesus some cardio? What a wicked thought! And how wicked to transfer guilt and shame and deserved punishment from the wicked to God. Here too Jesus gives an answer to everyone. God does not send people to hell. He does not choose people for damnation. They choose it for themselves. They choose it by rejecting the best news of the Gospel of God, rejecting that Word of life that comes from the lips of Jesus.
I wonder if this incident is what Jesus was remembering when he said to Nicodemus: “He who does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has entered the world, and people loved darkness more than light because their works were evil. Because everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest their works be discovered (18-20) .
The people of Nazareth did not want a Savior from sin because, evidently, they did not want to acknowledge that they were sinners. As we walk through the life of Jesus and see his interactions with people, that vicious cycle repeats itself. Pontius Pilate does not need a Savior: “Am I a Jew?” The inquisitors of the man whom Jesus gave his sight, when the man was confessing Jesus, said, “You were steeped in sin when you were born, how dare you lecture us!” They openly objected to Jesus’ teachings about coming into the world to give spiritual sight to the spiritually blind, “Are we blind too?” And Jesus gives a chilling answer. “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you say you can see, your guilt remains (John 9:41)”.
It’s easy to say, “Oh, those horrible people in Nazareth. I would never be like them.” But beware! Claiming Jesus as our Savior means that we are saying that we are sinners. We cannot make that claim and then go home today, dirty our husband or wife, and claim that we have no sin. We can’t screw it up at work and hope to escape guilt if we just keep our mouths shut. We cannot lose our mistakes in a bureaucracy of covering the tails of others. My sin caused Jesus to die. Your spiritual blindness led him to sink his head in death. When all this comes to us, we stop asking those kinds of questions, because in Jesus we have an answer for everyone.
1. Why are people saved?
2. How can God be so cruel to send people to hell?
Then we stop looking at others and wondering why and how. Then we start looking at ourselves and saying, “Get on your knees, boy, and thank God for his goodness.” “Get off your tail, girl, and start serving the Lord who is so good to you.” And everyone, approach our lives in fear and trembling knowing that all it would take is for our sinful, self-righteous stubbornness to take hold of us and we would cast off heaven and Jesus.