A cross-eyed view of God
Just about everybody's favorite hymn — How Great Thou Art — is a real challenge to sing without choking back tears. Especially when you reach this verse:
And when I think, that God His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died, to take away my sin.
In Jesus, God Himself was born flesh. Though God did not vacate heaven in the process, nor was anything subtracted from Him, in some real sense He “became flesh”, walked and talked with us human beings, healed us, taught us His way of love, and told us of His plan to grant us eternal life in His kingdom. In our turn, we mocked Him, rejected Him, betrayed Him, tortured Him and then, finally, we “killed the Prince of life”. It wasn't the Jews who killed Jesus, it was us human beings. Why did the Christ have to suffer so (Acts 17:3)?
We human beings are evil (Matt. 7:11). My dear departed Aunt Marjorie, whom everybody loved, was full of the zest of life and was such fun to be around, always ready to tell a funny story; and I never heard her say a mean word about anybody. But she wasn't interested in God, who had given her life and allowed her to enjoy the wealth this world has to offer. These blessings did not convict her of the goodness of God. What will it take in the day of judgment to convince her, through and through, that God is infinitely good, that He loves her without restraint? Of course, the blessings of life, as manifestations of
the unseen providential care of God, should be enough, but we can argue our way around them by pointing to life's pain. But we can't argue against the suffering of Christ. The Creation convicts the human mind of the infinite power and glory of God; the suffering and death of Jesus Christ prove and demonstrate the infinite goodness and love of God.
Jesus was willing to die to atone for our sins; that alone should be enough to convince us of the love of God who “sent” Him. But God was willing to give us much more than the death of His Son. Atonement would have been affected if Jesus had been painlessly beheaded, like John the Baptist had been. But scourging, beating, humiliation and the agony of crucifixion? They were not necessary for atonement to be provided. In due course, my dear aunt Marjorie will be “healed” of her godless heart only when her eyes are opened to see what Her Creator was willing to endure to prove His love for one who didn't love Him, and to demonstrate beyond all disputation His commitment to saving her. Yes, it is by His stripes, His suffering, we are healed (1 Pet. 2:24) and made sane. God demonstrated His infinite love for us by sending His Son to suffer and die for us while we human beings couldn't give a mouse's nose about Him.
The world's cleverest lawyers cannot bring a case against this rock solid, indisputable evidence of God's absolute commitment to His creatures. He loves us; He wants to share eternity with us, even though we don't even begin to be worthy to enjoy communion with Him. When my aunt Marjorie sees what He has done for her, she will almost certainly repent bitterly. So too will history's rogues and villains. God sent His Son into the world not to condemn it but to save it. He will succeed.