Now You See Me (John 14:1-12)

People read about God’s wrath in the Bible, hear how Jesus died in our place, and bore our sins, and conclude that an angry God just had to punish someone and Jesus (who is not angry) didn’t want it to be us. So, he deflected the blow and took the punishment. People don’t usually put it that crudely but that is how many people understand what happened.

This summary of the good news sounds a lot like bad news, but because there is truth mixed in with the falsehood, people swallow it whole. The worst part of it may be the heretical way it separates the Father and the Son into a kind of good cop/bad cop team. Instead of seeing a Father who is determined to rescue his children, we get a God who is determined to hurt them. Instead of the biblical understanding that sin is ruining us, we get a God who will ruin us. Fortunately for us, the Son, who in nicer than his Father, intervenes. Otherwise, we’d all be toast.

That is heresy. The Son is not the good cop and the Father the bad cop because they are both good and neither one is a cop. This teaching does one of the greatest disservices possible: it makes it almost impossible for a person to fully trust the God and Father of Jesus. How can you trust someone who only yesterday wanted to destroy you?

But the Father and the Son are of one mind. The Son hates sin every bit as much as the Father, and the Father loves sinners every bit as much as the Son. What the Son says, the Father also says. What the Father does, the Son also does. (Remember John 5:19: Whatever the Father does the Son also does.”) There is not and can never be, as St. Anselm put it, any division in the godhead. Or, as Jesus put it: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

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