Inspired by Colossians 1:11-20
“For in [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:19-20 (NRSV)
Is God a wrathful God, demanding a blood sacrifice for our sin? Is his love for us demonstrated by the coldness and callousness of a Father sending his own and only Son to his death?
Many Christians take exactly that view, and while they respond in gratitude to such loving sacrifice, their faith is tempered by the understanding that if God could abandon his own Son on the cross, he’s more than willing to abandon them to their own sin and punishment if they don’t please him. While the Father/Son language is biblical and accurate, it’s also incomplete.
The nature of the Triune God is relational, which is why we speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But while all three are distinct persons, they are also all three fully God. When the Father sent his Son to the cross, it wasn’t one being sending another to experience something alone; it was God sending himself to suffer and die for our sake. It wasn’t some innocent victim of an abusive Father being forced into crucifixion, it was God himself willingly taking the penalty for our sin upon himself for all time, so we would never have to. And when he died, he also defeated death and raised us all to new life, once and for all.
It wasn’t a wrathful God who tortured and murdered Jesus; it was sinful humanity. But God dwelt fully in Christ, and used that event not to punish humanity for our violence and sinfulness, but to free us from it. He met our violence with love, substituted punishment with grace, and turned death into life. We need never fear his wrath; we are invited to experience the depth of his love.
Let us pray. Incarnate God, you took on our flesh and became truly human. Open our eyes to the freedom you have given us, that we may worship you without fear or reservation. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.