Today was a beautiful Easter Sunday. Even though we as Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection every first day of the week, it seems especially fitting to take a few minutes this week to think about what happened on the cross. Both the Father and the Son made sacrifices for it to happen, and they did it willingly and together.
First, God sacrificed fellowship. Remember the parable about the prodigal son? (Luke 15:11-32) One son stayed obediently at home, while the other insulted his father by asking for his inheritance early and then wasting it in sinful living. He eventually decided to return home. Think back to how his father is described in verse 20: “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” This dad was watching for his son, and when he saw him he couldn’t wait to be with him.
With that kind of love for sinners who are cruel to Him, God surely loves His Son deeply. In order for Jesus to come to Earth, He had to leave Heaven. He was there with God before the creation in perfect fellowship. God let Him leave His presence and be apart from Him so that we could have a Savior.
God also set aside His power. In Jeremiah 32:27, God says, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Our Father is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He is everywhere knowing everything and can do anything. He could have stopped the crucifixion, but He chose not to. Instead, He allowed Jesus to use His free will and did not stop the consequences. Yes, Jesus giving His life on the cross is what God had planned, but He did have the power to stop it at any time.
Finally, God gave up the desire of a Father to protect His Son. We know that God sees even a sparrow that falls (Luke 12:6). God wants good for others. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” God did not enjoy watching His Son suffer, but He allowed it to happen to save humanity.
To visit Earth, Jesus traded Heaven for ridicule. The peace of being with the Father and the beauty of Heaven were His. He could have stayed in safety and avoided all of the hardship and pain of this life, but He didn’t. Because He loves us. He knew what would happen when He got here, but He was willing to do it anyway.
Jesus also relinquished power. He could have stopped His agony at any time. Matthew 26:53 says, “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” If He had changed His mind, He could have saved Himself, and God would have helped. Jesus explains that people couldn’t take His life against His will in John 10:18. “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” No man or army could have killed Jesus if He hadn’t chosen to sacrifice Himself. He did all things willingly.
He also gave up His dignity. Jesus helped to make the world, and then He allowed created men to hit Him, spit on Him, put a mockery of a crown on His head, whip Him, strip Him of His clothing, and hang Him on a cross in front of His mother, followers, and people who hated Him. Hebrews 12:2 says, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus didn’t just come to Earth and go through the motions of His life as an unfeeling robot. He despised being treated and shamed the way that He was, but He did it for what was to come. He did it for us.
While Jesus was on the cross, He said something heartbreaking. Mark 15:34 reads, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”” Here Jesus is quoting from the first verse of Psalm 22. The psalmist describes feeling alone and miserable.
However, the tone of the psalm changes. Verse 24 says, “For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.” Even Jesus felt alone. He allowed Himself to feel it, and even verbalized it, but He knew that He wasn’t.
Although Jesus could have stopped His suffering, and God could have ended it, together They allowed it to happen. Why? John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God cares about sparrows, He certainly cares about His Son, and He cares about each person.
The Father and Son went through all this so that they could give people a second chance. And third, and fourth…because we mess up. Badly. And often. Still, God believes we are worth it. Let’s not let Jesus have died in vain. Starting a life with God is simple, and continuing it is the best hard thing we can ever do.
May the Lord bless and keep you,