What Could Be Worse?

Our Red Letter Challenge small group has been meeting on Sunday evenings. As we began the week of Forgiving this past Sunday, our discussion naturally centered around the topic of forgiveness. One of the suggested discussion questions for our study was, “Has anybody ever wronged you more than you have wronged God?”

We all knew the right answer was, of course, no. We knew we were supposed to say something like, “No, clearly nobody could ever possibly wrong me more than I have wronged God.” But one member of our group was brave enough to give more than just token consideration to the question. Though he could not think of anyone who had wronged him greatly in his life, he wondered if it was theoretically possible for someone to wrong him more than he had wronged God. Was his sin against God really that bad? Couldn’t someone potentially do something especially horrible to us that might rival what we have done against God? Another member of our group suggested as an example that if someone killed your child, that might be worse than your own sin against God.

As we talked through all of this, I was reminded of a verse from the somber Lenten hymn “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted.” The hymn focuses our attention on the great suffering Jesus was willing to endure for our sake, and all four verses are incredibly powerful, but verse 3 was the one that came to mind for me on Sunday. Pointing us to the sight of Jesus on the cross, here’s how it begins: 

“Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here it’s guilt may estimate.”

We might be tempted to convince ourselves that our sin isn’t really all that bad. Maybe we have avoided the really “big” sins, and we know that we have generally tried our best. We’re not perfect, but we’re certainly a lot better than a lot of other people. But the cross of Jesus shows us the true nature and gravity of our sin. It was bad enough to send Jesus to the cross, where He was stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:4) Many hands were raised to wound Him, and the truth was that your hands and my hands were among them. Verse 3 concludes:

“Mark the sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s anointed, 
Son of Man and Son of God.”

Would it be worse than what we did to God if someone killed our child? Actually, that’s exactly what we did to God. Thanks to our sin, His child, His one and only beloved Son, was killed. And yet, as Jesus was giving His very life for us, He spoke forgiveness: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) So no, clearly nobody could ever possibly wrong us more than we have wronged God. But God has forgiven us far more than we could ever comprehend. —Pastor Caleb Adams, October 6, 2021.