by Jordan Moore
We’ve recently started implementing thumping as a means of discipline for our one-year-old. When she throws a fit and screams out, we’ll thump her lip to communicate that what she used her mouth for was not appropriate. When she throws her food on the floor, we’ll thump her hand to indicate that it was her hand that was not used in a proper way. This helps her to properly associate the consequences with her actions. Naturally, she gets really offended and begins to cry – not because the thump was really that hard and badly hurt, but because she didn’t like that we disciplined her.
It turns out, her older brother (5 years old) despises when his baby sister is punished. The first time he witnessed a thump and her subsequent response, I noticed a few moments later that he’d gotten up from his seat and walked over to caress her head and wipe her tears. When I asked him what he was doing, he began to well up with big crocodile tears and lashed out at me with, “Don’t hurt my baby sister!” He didn’t understand that the discipline was to instruct his baby sister and to help her learn what was a good choice and what was a poor choice.
Fast forward a few weeks and we were reading from our children’s Bible about Jesus’ death on the cross. This provided opportunity for discussion about how much God loves us and a time of explanation that Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment that we deserve when we sin. The next night, a thump was doled out to the baby and what happened next was something I’ll never forget. The little boy that had previously lashed out at me, turned and said, “I should have taken her thump.” When I asked why, he said, “Because I love her and that’s like what Jesus did.”
In its simplest and purest form, the explanation of love is absolutely the catalyst for Jesus’ self-sacrifice. But consider that when we dive even deeper into the complex nature of the sacrifice of Jesus (and begin to understand the “why” of Jesus’ sacrifice) our understanding of His love is even greater magnified:
Jesus died to satisfy God’s holy wrath and endure my punishment. Sin is ugly and atrocious. It’s antithetical to the nature of God. He despises and is repulsed by sin. His holy and perfect nature is transcendent above sin, such that it cannot associate with it, and He must righteously punish the one who has transgressed. In this context, the word that the Bible uses to describe the sacrifice of Jesus is propitiation (Rom. 3:25). The idea is that the punishment for sin has been inflicted and God’s wrath is appeased.
Jesus died to redeem me from the grasp of sin and Satan. Even though God despises sin, He still desperately loves us and wants us to return to him. Unfortunately, as sinners, we have become slaves of sin (Rom. 6:17) and have been taken captive by the devil (2 Tim. 2:25-26). It’s as if we have pledged our allegiance to the Devil, and Christ, through his death was able to redeem us (buy us back) out of that enslavement (Rom. 3:24).
Jesus died to justify me before God. Not only did Jesus endure my punishment and purchase me back from sin, but he also died so that he could stand with me before God and declare me as pardoned and righteous. He is “both just and the justifier” (Rom. 3:26). I’ve not merely evaded punishment, but I’ve also been forgiven! What a glorious thought!
Jesus died to reconcile me. Jesus loves me so much that not only did he endure the sacrifice to take away my punishment, purchase me back from sin, and pardon me before God – but also, so that I can be friends with God again. Sometimes, when humans forgive it doesn’t always mean that friendship is restored. Not so, with God. Previously enemies, now friends (Rom. 5:10-11). Reconciliation with God means that he has once again extended a handshake of fellowship to me.
May we constantly remind ourselves of the awesome love of Christ and dig deeper into the complex nature of His sacrifice!