Wrath is defined as “strong, stern, or fierce anger; deeply resentful indignation; ire.” I am sure that some have faced wrath. It comes in waves at times by people who may hate you or despise you. It comes when something that you’ve done causes such grief for the other person that sometimes they will be wrathful toward you–holding deep resentful indignation at your very presence. However, the wrath that we face is nothing compared to the wrath that Jesus Christ faced. He faced the wrath of people from all walks of life and even to this day faces the wrath of people who claim to not believe He is the only way to get to heaven. Not only does He face the wrath of people, but Jesus also faced the wrath of His Heavenly Father.
The Wrath of Men
See first how the guards mocked Jesus Christ after they nailed Him to the Cross. Luke writes in his gospel, The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” (Luke 23:36, 37) They were jeering at Him, making fun of him, being sarcastic toward Him. After He had been so weakened by the beating He endured, they nailed His hands and His feet to the Cross–a cruel form of death devised by the evil men of Rome. After crucifying Him, placing His Cross at the placed called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull), these same guards offered Him wine mixed with gall to drink (Matthew 27:34). The gall would have sedative properties and sometimes would be given as a poison for the one being crucified. But Jesus refused to drink of this bitter cup. They then proceeded to divide His clothes by throwing dice. That is, they were placing bets as to who would win Jesus’ blood soaked clothes. He knew that His death was necessary even in the face of mockery from the guards.
See next how two thieves were crucified next to Jesus and how they showed their wrath toward Him. One was on the right and the other on the left of Him. Luke 23:40 records the words of one of the criminals: Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” He was saying these words in mocking way. The text in the Greek language indicates that this thief was being sarcasting, unbelieving as to whom he was speaking. He in essence was denying the very Person of the Lord Jesus Christ with his jeering. These outlaws were against Jesus, and yet Jesus knew that His death was necessary even in the face of the wrath he faced from the one theif. At least one of them asked Jesus to remember him that day. In other words, he was believing Jesus Christ to be his Savior. And what Jesus’ response? Luke 23:43 says, I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.
See how the crowds of people raged against Jesus Christ while He was crucified. They defamed Him and shook their heads at Him (Matthew 27:38). They misinterpreted His saying that the temple could be destroyed and in three days He would rebuild it. They sneered at Him saying, You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you’re God’s Son, come down from the cross!” Notice the enticement to prove Himself as the Son of God when they said if you’re God’s Son. It sounds very much like the devil in Matthew 4:3, 6 when he tempted Jesus to turn the stones into bread because He had been fasting for forty days and nights. Then the devil tried to have Him prove to him and others that Jesus was truly God’s Son by throwing Himself off a cliff and having angels act as His parachute to bring Him to a soft landing. This would certainly prove to people all over that He truly is God’s Son. But Jesus would have none of the enticements from the devil or even the people who were wrathful toward Him. Rather, He knew that were He to take Himself off the Cross, although He could save Himself, He would then not be able to save anyone else–even those who were mocking Him, jeering at Him, sneering at Him, hurling insults and beating Him. Jesus knew that His death was necessary even in the face of these who did not believe Him.
See how the chief priests and scribes were revealing their wrath toward Jesus Christ. First, they were wrathful because He claimed to be the king of the Jews (Matthew 27:11). Second, they were wrathful toward Jesus Christ because He claimed to be God’s Son (Matthew 27:43). The idea in the Greek text is that they were bullying Him, making fun of Him while He was dying on the Cross. They were looking at Him, pointing at Him, and denying His Lordship, His Kingship, His dominion over everything. After all, how could this One who claimed to be a king die on the Cross? How could this blasphemer not be put to death by claiming His Sonship of God? In their estimation, Jesus Christ deserved death. And it Jesus knew that His death was necessary even for the religious leaders of His day.
The wrath of man toward Jesus Christ even wags its ugly head today–jeering, sneering, mocking, and denying.
The Wrath of God
Then we see how God the Father poured out His wrath on His only begotten Son. Jesus cries out with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” Translated from the Aramaic, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) Jesus Christ, after taking our sin upon Himself, became sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21). It was by Jesus Christ’s shedding of His own blood that sins are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). It is His willing obedience to go to the Cross (Philippians 2:5-8). All the while He was doing what His Heavenly Father had planned for Him to do accoridng to His good pleasure and for His glory (Ephesians 1:6, 9, 12, 14). At the moment that Jesus Christ took the sins of the world upon Himself, this is when He faced something that He had never faced before: the forsaking of His Father. The One with whom Jesus had perfect fellowship for eternity was now being abandoned to die on the Cross. But think not that this was something He disdained; rather, Hebrews 12:2 says that this is the joy set out for Him that he endured the Cross, disregarding the shame, and now has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:3 then says, Think of Him who endured such opposition against Himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. He willingly gave Himself to die on the Cross in obedience to His Father so that He could save us from our sin.
The wrath of God toward Jesus Christ He endured was no smal feat. For the death that He died was the wages of sin (Romans 6:23). There was no other way for these wages to be paid. John 3:16 says, For this is the way God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God the Father gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so those who believe will ahve eternal life. We would not have eternal life had Jesus Christ saved His own life. We would not have eternal life had Jesus Christ not willingly had given His life as a payment for our sins.
Jesus Christ endured the wrath of man (and still does, although He died for all), and certainly endured the wrath of His Heavenly Father on our behalf. Of course the story does not end here. We still have the truth of His resurrection from the dead.