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A meditation for Good Friday

April 9th, 2009

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32

In this verse. Paul’s focus is on the love of God the Father, the Father who did not spare His Son, but who was ready to give him up for us.

This is a very important truth for us to learn, because sometimes our whole picture of God the Father is wrong with regards to our salvation. It’s as if, somehow, salvation were torn grudgingly from the hands of a reluctant deity. Sometimes it is represented as if Jesus were somehow on the cross pleading to get the Father involved in His people’s plight, imploring the Father to love His people, hoping to get Him involved in the redemption of His people.

But that is not the biblical picture at all, and it’s certainly not the picture of Romans 8:32. Indeed, it all began with the Father’s love. He loved us. He sent Jesus. He helped the Son through His earthly ministry. And in the final analysis, He is the one who delivers up His Son as a sacrifice for our salvation. When we look at the cross, we are often moved by what we see happening to the Lord Jesus Christ. We sing about it. We’re moved by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But often we do not pause to think how the Father was moved by what was happening at the cross. We can go to Old Testament passages like Genesis 22, and we read of Abraham being called to offer up his son, Isaac. And as we read that story, we hear every syllable of that directive being driven home. Abraham, Abraham, take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love and offer him up as a sacrifice to me in the land of Moriah.” We know that Abraham’s heart is breaking. The Bible doesn’t have to put in a verse to say, “And by the way, Abraham was absolutely brokenhearted at the thought of losing his precious son, Isaac.” We know that. But Abraham was a mere reflection of the Creator who made him, and Abraham’s heart of compassion and love for his son was a mere shadow of the love of the Heavenly Father for His son.

And so how can we think that the Father is looking at Calvary and is unmoved by what he is seeing? When we hear Joab, David’s general, come in to David in 2 Samuel 18:33 to announce that Absalom, the traitorous son, the son who had attempted to take the kingdom away from King David, has been killed in battle by the troops of David, we understand the reaction of David that Joab just didn’t get. When David tears his robe, and goes into mourning and cries out, “Absalom, Absalom, my son, Absalom, if only I had died instead of you”, we understand that kind of love. But David’s love for his son, Absalom, was simply a pale reflection of the love of the Heavenly Father for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And if we take that into account, then there is no way that God the Father Himself is unmoved by the spectacle of what is happening on Calvary. And not only what is happening on Calvary, but that He is causing it all to happen.

The Father longs to answer the question which Christ cries out, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” That’s because it’s His precious Son who is on the cross. And we see the Father’s heart for us in the fact that He is involved in the giving up of His own Son. We think of the Son losing sight of the Father’s face as He bears the wrath of God for us on the cross. But so often we forget to think that corresponding to the Son’s loss of his Father, there is the Father’s loss of his Son. Just as the Son comes to that point where He loses the sense of the Father’s grace and presence and love, so also the Father comes to that moment, that cry, and He faces the loss of His own Son. The whole principle of the divine compassion is a reflection, not only of the suffering of the incarnate Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, but also the suffering of God the Father as he hears that cry of dereliction.

On Good Friday we remember how the Father loved, how the Father was involved, how He bore the cost, how He endured the pain, and how He did not spare his Son. A realization of the Father’s involvement in our salvation is absolutely essential to a proper understanding of the cross.

So here’s Paul’s word to you and me. Do you want to know how God is for you? Do you want to know how much God is for you? Look at the Father’s involvement in salvation. The Father didn’t have to be coaxed into this work of redemption. It was His plan, and He effected it at every point and was involved at every stage along the way. He didn’t have to be dragged into it. He produced it. We know that God is for us because “he did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all”.

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