What is God really like? Jesus tells a parable in Luke 20:9-19, which reveals four foundational aspects of the nature of God. In Part 1, we saw God is good. In Part 2, we saw God is patient and loving. Now, in the conclusion of this message, we will look at the final truth we learn about God from this parable. You may be shocked to discover the truth!
4. God is holy – He will punish sin
After Jesus spoke of the tenants killing the owner’s son, He paused and asked, “What will the owner of the vineyard do then?” Before the listeners had a chance to respond, He answered His own question. He said, “He will come and kill them and give the vineyard to someone else” (vv. 15-16).
Don’t confuse love with syrupy sentimentality. Because God is holy, He cannot tolerate sin. Years ago, school teachers used to paddle students if they misbehaved. I remember hearing a story about one teacher who had a big paddle he kept in his desk drawer. He had the word “patience” written on his paddle. Whenever someone misbehaved, he would pull the paddle out and say, “You’re getting close to the end of my patience.” He always warned a student before he executed judgment. If the warning was ignored, the student got a paddling. He would say, “You’ve reached the end of my patience, now the end of my patience is going to reach you.”
On the other hand, whenever the students had a substitute teacher, they could misbehave because substitute teachers seldom punished kids. Some people think God is like some half-witted, permissive substitute teacher who looks at the world of misbehaving sinners and says, “Now, now boys and girls, please sit down and be quiet.” No, God is holy and like the owner of the vineyard, there will be a day of judgment for those who reject His Son.
In the book of Revelation, there is a great deal written about God’s ultimate judgment against those who reject His love. In the middle of these future judgments, an angel says to God, “You are just in these judgments, O Holy One,You who are and who were;for they have shed the blood of Your holy people and Your prophets, and You have given them blood to drink as they deserve” (Rev. 16:5). Because God is Holy, He will punish sin; and because God is Holy, He is right and just in His judgments.
Jesus infuriated the Jewish leaders because He claimed to be the “stone which the builders rejected.” The Jews were on the verge of rejecting God’s chief cornerstone – they would crucify Him. But God was going to exalt Jesus by raising Him from the dead.
A few months after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Peter and John were arrested for healing a paralyzed man. They were summoned before the same Jewish council who sentenced Jesus to die. Instead of pleading for mercy, Peter used the opportunity to repeat these words of Jesus right in their faces: “Know this, you and all the people of Israel: it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is the ‘stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12).
What is God really like? He is good, He is patient, and He is loving. But He is also holy and today you and I must consider Jesus’ warning: If you reject God’s Son, you will receive God’s judgment.
Imagine, for a moment, you committed a capital crime and were convicted and sentenced to receive the death penalty. You are on death row and the date of your execution is approaching. Just a few hours before you are scheduled to receive a lethal injection the prison warden enters your cell and says, “I have good news for you! The governor has decided to grant you a full and free pardon. Here, this is a copy of your pardon.” Then imagine you look at the warden, and laugh and say, “I don’t believe you. Besides, I’m guilty. No thanks.” Then you tear up the pardon and toss it back in the warden’s face. You would be a fool not to accept such an offer. The only recourse for the warden would be to carry out your execution.
It is also true that if you receive God’s Son, you will receive God’s forgiveness. Each of us stands guilty before the Lord. The good news is God has offered you a full and free pardon. Jesus Christ has already taken our punishment and all we have to do is accept God’s free gift of forgiveness. You and I would be fools not to accept such an offer. The Bible says, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God” (Psalm 53:1).
Will you receive His Son today? The Bible says, “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).