Misplaced Astonishment

Jared Wilson posted this stellar piece by R.C. Sproul called The Locus of Astonishment:

Jesus said, “But unless you repent, you will likewise perish. Or do you think those 18 people who were walking down the street, minding their own business, were more miserable sinners, and more disobedient to the laws and commandments of God than the average person in Siloam? No, no, no. But I say to you, unless you repent, you too will perish.”

How do you respond to that? As I said, this is a hard saying. This is a harsh Jesus speaking. I have to ask, what is it Jesus is trying to communicate and teach those who are asking these questions. People are saying, “How can God allow these terrible things to happen?” If I can restate Jesus’ words in another way, what I hear Jesus saying here is this, “You’re asking me the wrong question. You’re asking me about things that you shouldn’t be asking me about. In other words, you are shocked at the wrong point. You have located your astonishment at a different place from where I would locate it.”

What do I mean by that? There’s a song that we sing in the Christian church. We all know the name of the song, “Amazing Grace.” It’s an interesting title and an interesting concept. I wonder if we really are amazed by grace? I think we express more amazement at God’s wrath than at His mercy. We’ve come to the place, I think, in our religious thinking where we assume that God will be merciful, that God will be kind, that God will be gracious, and so we’re not surprised whenever we experience His kindness. What shocks us is when we see something bad take place, when we see an expression of the wrath of God. That’s what I hear Jesus saying here. “You people are asking me the wrong question. You are asking me why that temple fell on the heads of the people in Siloam. You should be asking me why that temple didn’t fall on your heads.”

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