The Anger and Pleasure of God (40 Days of Easter Truth #36)
Easter Focus Passage: Ephesians 5:1-2
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children
2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Easter Truth – DAY THIRTY-SIX:
The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is by far the greatest event to ever take place in history. Nothing else comes close to the importance and severity of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. It is a complex event that speaks to the power and divinity of Jesus and His unconditional love in coming to earth to bear the sins of the entire world and to give us all a way out of our misery.
Two things become apparent from this wonderful event:
(1) God the Father put His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross and then had to turn away from Him in anger, sorrow, and heartbreak. He was not angry at Jesus; He loved Jesus. He was angry at the sin of the entire world that sent His Son to the cross. He was so hurt and burdened by our sin that He had to turn His face from His Son because He could not bear to look at the ugliness of our hearts and lives. When God turned away, Jesus was alone. Jesus was abandoned. Jesus was completely and entirely forsaken. Jesus was deserted by His own Father which forced Him to ask the question, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” For the first time in all of eternity, Jesus was separated from God.
Like any normal father, God felt His Son’s pain. The hurt and anguish that Jesus experienced on the cross was the same hurt and anguish that God the Father experienced when He turned away. The Father’s wrath and anger was poured out on His Son so we would not have to experience it ourselves. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” We may not grasp the full meaning of this scenario. It is unlikely that we ever will understand it in its entirety because it is so deep and complex. But God had to abandon His Son in order to receive us to Himself and make it possible for us to be made righteous and holy in His sight.
(2) Not only do we see God’s anger, but we also see the pleasure of God in this event. It is very paradoxical. God completely delights in and approves of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. God’s love and joy in this event runs parallel to Jesus’ willing obedience. The cross is the climax of all of human history; it is Jesus’ crowning achievement, it is His life’s work, it is His ultimate goal, it is what He was born into the world to do. Without the cross, nothing really matters and what we think matters quickly becomes obsolete in view of eternity. God was pleased, proud, and took pleasure in His Son’s sacrifice. Therefore, Ephesians 5:2 says, “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
This is the paradox. This is the complexity of glory. This is where the rubber meets the road for all of Christianity. This is where grace invades our lives and mercy overwhelms us. God in all His power was angry about the death of Jesus; yet at the same time, it was a pleasing, fragrant offering. While giving up His Son’s life, He gave us all new life. While turning away from His Son, He delighted in His perfect love and willing sacrifice. While heaping our sins upon His shoulders, He heaped grace upon our lives.
Everything that is worth anything collides at the foot of the cross. It is with wonder and amazement that we should receive the grace and salvation that Christ went through so much to offer to us. The foot of the cross is a sobering yet joyful, painful yet pleasurable, overwhelming yet astonishing place to be. Let our minds and our hearts consider the great things God has done for us.
Lord, we stand in awe of Your amazing grace, of the complexity with which You took our sin and shame and sacrificially made a way for us to have new life. We will never fully understand why You had to turn away from Your Son, but in view of our sins — all of them — we are grateful that You loved us so much that You would demonstrate Your love in such a powerful way. We choose today to trust in Jesus, to receive Your salvation, and to walk humbly in the wonder of Your grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.