Theme: Hostile Toward God
In this week’s lessons, we see what it means for Jesus to be the only mediator between God and those who have sinned against him.
Scripture: 1 Timothy 2:5-6
Not only does God say that we are hostile toward him, but it’s also seen in the way we live. And, indeed, it’s seen in the history of the human race because sin at its base is hostility to God. It’s our wanting to go our way rather than God’s way. And, therefore, every time you have a demonstration of sin you have a demonstration of this great truth that we’re in opposition to God. God is there as the holy, righteous, and sovereign God; yet we don’t like that kind of God, and so we go about our way. Everything that we do in our sin is an expression of that basic enmity toward him.
If you go back to the fall, you find expressed there the opposition of Adam to God. Adam was given this great freedom to rule the world for God. But Adam said in effect that he wanted to be totally free. He did not like the limits that God had placed on him, and so he followed rebelled against God. And in Adam’s disobedience death passed upon the human race. But the situation got worse, and the early chapters of Genesis trace that out.
If you go to Psalm 2, you see how this rebellion works itself out. It talks about the kings of the earth taking counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed. They want to break free of the bonds God puts upon us—the burden of our creaturehood and the fact that we need God and we owe him allegiance. This is absolutely intolerable to them. They want to get rid of this kind of oppression that God brings upon them. This produces scorn and derision from God toward sinful men and women trying to fight against him. It’s a picture of this enmity.
Again, you come to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, and there you have men and women conspiring together to do away with God. When Jesus spoke and acted, it was as if God himself was speaking and acting, because the divine Son had become incarnate. They did not like when Jesus claimed to be able to forgive sins because they knew that only God could do that. But, you see, they did not believe that Jesus was God, and in rejecting Jesus they were really rejecting God himself.
The Lord told a story on one occasion in order to explain to the people what it is that they had been doing down through all the ages and would do again in his case. He said there was a man who owned a vineyard and went away to a far country. While he was gone, he left his vineyard in the hands of tenants, who were to take care of the vineyard. When they had harvested the grapes, the owner would send somebody to collect a portion of the revenue, which was his due as the owner. But when this happened, the tenants wanted to keep the profit for themselves, and so they mistreated, and even killed, those sent from the owner.
Eventually the owner decided to send his own son, whom he thought they would respect. But when the tenants saw the son coming, they said in effect, “Ah, this is the son. He’s the heir. Let’s kill him, and then nobody else will intrude. We’ll have it all for ourselves.” But then Jesus asked what the owner of the vineyard would do to those tenants. The point of the story was that God had sent the prophets in the past to show people the way of the Lord, and those prophets had been mistreated by the very people who should have welcomed their message. Now God had sent his own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was now standing in the midst and teaching the descendants of those who had rejected the prophets. And they did the same to him. They were rejecting his message as well, and would soon conspire to have him crucified.
But what our Lord did not say as he told that story of the vineyard, but which certainly follows, is that if the owner had come himself, they would have done to the owner precisely what they did to the son. They would have killed him, too. That’s what men and women would do with God if they could do it. If men and women could get God to come down here on earth, they would kill Him. And the proof that they would kill God is that they killed Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead.
People today say they are not like that, and would never act that way. Many people today claim to believe in God and consider themselves right with him. But the god they claim to belong to is a god of their imagination; it’s not the true God. They hate him. In their sin that is how people feel toward God, who has revealed himself in Scripture, which tells us of Jesus Christ and how to be saved from God’s wrath toward us. That is the way it is with everyone who remains in their sin. We are hostile toward God, and that’s why we need a mediator.
What led to man’s hostility in Genesis 3?
How do we see this enmity against God in Psalm 2?
Explain the meaning of the parable Jesus told about the owner of the vineyard and the tenants.
Reflection: What evidences do you observe of people’s hostility toward God?