Punishment or Loving Choice

As we look forward to celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday, we also sometimes wonder just why he had to die in the first place. Why couldn’t his plan to save and redeem humanity be accomplished some other way? Was the suffering and torture he endured really necessary? 

Many believe his death was punishment inflicted by his Father to satisfy his all-consuming rage. You almost can’t read an Easter devotional that doesn’t include this kind of reasoning. But in light of who God is as a triune being, in essence love, existing in relationship as Father, Son and Spirit, this doesn’t make any sense. It would mean the one whom Jesus called his Abba decided to punish his dearly loved son because he couldn’t control his rage, which also means he punished himself, as they are one in the same.

Jesus partially explained why in Matthew 21:33-46. It’s the story of the owner of a vineyard who had leased it and then sent servants to collect the earnings, who were killed, then sent more servants who were also killed, and finally he sent his son. The tenants murdered him as well, thinking they would steal his inheritance. Just as the greedy tenants killed the owner’s son, so we, all of fallen humanity, killed Jesus. As enemies and haters of God, we put God himself to death to satisfy the rage we feel as victims of our own self-inflicted fallenness. Jesus’ death had nothing to do with “satisfying the wrath of God.”

Jesus went to the cross for one reason – the indescribable, selfless, self-emptying love that not only defines who he is but is the motivation and impetus behind everything he does. Love sent him there, love kept him there and love continues to hold us in his redeeming embrace.

Author: ttkach

Writer, cyclist, paper-crafter, mom, gardener.

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