Love is from eternity. As I have written before, the Triune God is love. This means much more than a characteristic; it is the reality of God. The eternal being of our God is the mutuality of the three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Love is from eternity.
This loving God is often lost on me because much more often I hear of an angry God. A Holy God who is angry with creation. Angry with me…a sinner. This especially comes to light as we talk about the cross. The idea most often described in American culture paints a picture of a vengeful God who sends Jesus to satisfy God’s anger. Jesus paid our debts on the cross. The angry God is satisfied as the perfect son dies the death that our sin should have afforded us.
The thing is I am not sure this is good news because I am not sure I want to be around this God.
Now I know God cares about justice and part of justice and love requires God to uphold certain things. God must be able to deal with the guilty. God cannot dismiss the wrongs done because dismissing the wrong does not offer salvation.
This also does not mean I am to dismiss the centrality of the cross as the saving work of God. I believe the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus has cosmic significance.
The cross does not satisfy an angry God; it is the ultimate proclamation of the love of God.
As we learn in the most popular Christian text, “For God so loved the world, God gave God’s son.” The incarnation, Jesus’ taking on flesh and blood, is a “yes” to the material world. The cross signals the flesh, blood, and dirt of this world have value; God is bound to this world. The faithful God does not give up on creation.
Even more, God displays love in the act of suffering.
“Love,” writes Jurgen Moltmann, “demands suffering.” I think he is right. Suffering and love are wed to one another. Love carries with it a pathos or passion. Scripture tells an unfolding story of God’s pursuit of people. This is not a far-off God struggling to fix a human sin problem. This is not a God who is to be appeased with sacrifices or hymns or what-have-yous. This is a personal God; an emotional God. A God who will stop at nothing to repair the broken relationship with mankind.
The cross is not so much appeasement as it is the act of a lover seeking reconciliation. The death of Jesus on the cross is the acceptance of suffering for our sake. It is the proclamation: God loves the world.
This brutal death, on the cursed tree, reaches to the full depth of human experience. Jesus’ death on the cross is the final step of the incarnation because humanity is not just born, we also die. So Jesus is God coming all the way into our world. God did not just wear humanity as a facade; God took on flesh, humbled himself, suffered, and died.
The crucified Messiah announces to the world that God will stop at nothing for us. God’s love is so great that he dives to the very death of human experience.
God is in solidarity with us. Jesus experiences everything; joy, happiness, pain, suffering, and even death. Death on a cross.
This means the cross of Christ is good news for all. No one can stand outside of God’s salvation. God in Christ suffers with us all.
This post is a contribution to Tony’s Jones #progGod challenge. He invited bloggers to respond to the questions Why a Crucifixion?