He Loves Me!
This devotional is a series of excerpts from Wayne Jacobsen's life changing book, He Loves Me! Download a PDF of this book by clicking the link below.
Day 29: Who Needed the Sacrifice?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Am I the only one who didn't think this Scripture was such great news the first time I heard it? Yes, I know it speaks of an incredible gift God gave so that we would not have to perish for our sins. For us, it is undoubtedly a great thing. But what does it say about God?
When I heard this in Sunday School as a child, my first response was, "If he loved us so much, why didn't he do it himself?" Admittedly I might have been influenced by the chores I had to do at home: For Dad so loved a well-kept yard that he sent me out to mow it. Dad so loved his vineyard, that he sent me to work in it. Dad so loved an ice-cold Pepsi, that he sent me to the refrigerator to get it for him.
So why didn't God himself appear in human flesh and submit himself to the most painful and humiliating death imaginable? No, he sent the Son instead; or so I used to think. And my confusion didn't end there. While I was grateful for the salvation he provided, I had some concerns about God because of the way he provided it.
What kind of Father satisfies his need for justice by the death of his own Son? Couldn't he have just forgiven us without taking it out on an innocent victim? If someone wrongs me and the only way I could satisfy my anger was to punish someone else as the means to forgive them, what does that say about me?
If the cross served God's need to be appeased by a human sacrifice, especially that of his own Son, we are left with a host of disturbing questions. Raise them with others, and most will escape answering them by claiming that God's demand for justice is beyond our comprehension. But I am convinced the dissonant perspectives about God that result from an appeasement based view of the cross, cause many to shy away from the intimate relationship he seeks with us.
Instead the unanswerable questions should invite us to reconsider our distorted view of the cross. Since Adam's fall we have come to picture God not as a loving Father inviting us to trust him, but an exacting sovereign who must be appeased. When we start from that vantage point we miss God's purpose on the cross. For his plan was not to satisfy some need in himself at his Son's expense, but rather to satisfy a need in us at his own expense.