The false conflict between the two testaments may be seen in the most brutal act of divine vengeance ever recorded in Scripture. It is not found in the Old Testament but in the New Testament. The most violent expression of God’s wrath and justice is seen in the Cross. If ever a person had room to complain of injustice, it was Jesus. He was the only innocent man ever to be punished by God. If we stagger at the wrath of God, let us stagger at the Cross. Here is where our astonishment should be focused. If we have cause for moral outrage, let it be directed at Golgotha.
The Cross was at once the most horrible and the most beautiful example of God’s wrath.
It was the most just and the most gracious act in history.
God would have been more than unjust, He would have been diabolical to punish Jesus if Jesus had not first willingly taken on Himself the sins of the world.
Once Christ had done that, once He volunteered to be the Lamb of God, laden with our sin, then He became the most grotesque and vile thing on this planet. With the concentrated load of sin He carried, He became utterly repugnant to the Father. God poured out His wrath on this obscene thing. God made Christ accursed for the sin He bore. Herein was God’s holy justice perfectly manifest. Yet it was done for us. He took what justice demanded from us.
This “for us” aspect of the Cross is what displays the majesty of its grace. At the same time justice and grace, wrath and mercy.
It is too astonishing to fathom.
We cringe at God’s justice because its expression is so unusual… God’s usual course of action is one of grace.
Grace no longer amazes us.
We have grown used to it; we take it for granted.
R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, pp. 121-122 (line breaks & emphasis added)