Second, God’s holy Word demonstrates how Jesus’ suffering shows forth the finest part of God’s holy character.
Isaiah 53:6 says, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (NASB).
God loves sinners and His own glory enough to expose His Son to His own wrath. We would not know how much God loves us if the Son had not suffered. Moreover, we would not know grace, the unmerited favor of God toward sinners, unless sin and sinners existed. Sin and evil in this world allow us to see the wrath, forgiveness, and dramatic saving impulse of God. As a dark cloth behind a diamond brings out the finest glimmer and reveals its hidden glory, the dark stain of evil reveals the best in God. His glory is revealed more, not less, in an imperfect world.
What if Adam and Eve had been told only about God’s grace? They would have known about it to a great degree, due to God’s direct revelation to their perfected minds. But there would have been limits to their understanding. Just as the delights of sexual pleasure cannot be understood only by reading about them, the delights of God’s grace cannot simply be studied academically—they must be experienced to be fully known.
The Suffering Servant also highlights God’s passion to pursue the sinner unto salvation.
Isaiah 53:11 reads, “As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities” (NASB).
From an entirely human perspective, God had a problem. How could He be just, and yet be the justifier of the guilty elect? He had to be the perfect judge, and yet find a way to pass over exposing the elect to His wrath. In His perfect wisdom, the Father poured out His wrath on the Son so the elect could find reconciliation with the Father. God so loved the world, loved justice, loved His own glory, loved His own satisfaction, that He gave His only begotten Son.
Back to our original problem of evil—in a world without evil, we never would know God’s “leave the ninety and nine” love. Remember that Jesus is the Seeker in the New Testament, not the sinner. He said, “ ‘The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost’ ” (Luke 19:10, NASB). Lost people aren’t seeking salvation from God any more than rats are seeking salvation from cats.
So based on God’s purposes for manifest evil of all types in this world and in His redemptive plan, how should we then live?
First, we are not afraid to suffer for the kingdom. We give and we give and we spend our lives in adventures of redemption, seeking the lost, risking it all. We turn from lives designed to maximize our vacation and begin to live in ways that maximize God’s salvation.
Second, we do not blaspheme God when moral or natural evil touches us. We look for His hand of providence in everything, and we bless Him and live, not curse Him and die. We stand with Job, who said: “ ‘The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD’ ” (Job 1:21b).
Finally, we rejoice in the bloody, brutal, primitive Gospel of Jesus’ death, knowing that without Jesus’ stripes we would not be healed, because that was the only way God could be both just and the justifier. We are not ashamed of the Gospel, we do not try to clean the goop off of it or update it with modern conventions, but we give the whole bloody mess to the sinner and saint alike. We are not ashamed of the Gospel.