“[Is] God … unjust to bring his wrath? … If that were so, how could God judge the world?
In the harrowing book, Night, Elie Wiesel tells of his experience at Auschwitz, a German concentration camp. There he lost his faith in God. One day prisoners were forced to watch as an innocent young boy was hanged. He was so light that the weight of his body was not enough to bring a quick death. He jerked at the end of the rope for half an hour. A man behind Wiesel whispered to him, “Where is your God now?” A voice within answered, “He is hanging here on this gallows.”
Wiesel did not deny God’s existence; but he began to doubt God’s absolute justice. Like those of whom Paul writes in our passage, he considered God unjust.
What do you think? Which is worse—to say that the police have not yet caught a murderer and brought him to justice, or to say that there is no such thing as justice, that it’s just wishful thinking?
The latter is vastly worse and leads to despair. Paul can’t even imagine a world without judgment. He recoils from the very idea: “Certainly not!” he says. Without judgment, the world would be nothing but a nightmare, which is all that Wiesel claimed was left: Night.
There was, however, another innocent One who hung on a cross for hours before dying. He is God’s own Son. His death for sinners allows perfect justice to be done and great grace to flow.
“O sacred head, [once] wounded, with grief and shame weighed down … Mine, mine was the transgression, but yours the deadly pain.” Thank you for taking my place. Amen.
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