I just read an essay on Jesus “absorbing the wrath of God” on the cross. It almost made me throw up. With such ease and passion and not a little patronizing the writer split Jesus’ Father into two different persons, and then ripped the Father-Son relationship apart, apparently without even knowing it, or caring. What madness. I suppose the Holy Spirit just stood there dazed wondering whose side he was supposed to join. There is something sinister about the need to have the Father vent his rage upon his own Son. And even more so when one then tries to call such an act “glorious grace.” But punishment is not forgiveness, and murder is not grace, and Jesus did not suffer the wrath of his Father, and the Holy Spirit was not torn between two lovers.
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” (MT 20:18-19)
It was the human race—not the Father—who condemned his Son. We cursed him. We poured our scorn, our wrath, our rage upon Jesus. We murdered him. And Jesus deliberately submitted himself to us and to our bizarre wrongheadedness. He bore our wrath. He suffered our enmity and died in the arms of our scorn. And he was not alone. His Father and the Holy Spirit were with him. And that is just the point. In the murder of Jesus the life of the Father, Son and Spirit found its way into our greatest sin—and overcame it. The cross is not about Jesus being forsaken by his Father; it is about the Father’s Son incarnate and the One anointed in the Holy Spirit submitting himself to the darkness of the human race, and thereby establishing a relationship with us as gross sinners. In the genius of the blessed Trinity our rejection and murder of Jesus were turned into the ultimate act of acceptance and embrace. In the murder of Jesus the blessed Trinity was “absorbing the wrath of the human race,” thereby forming oneness with us in our sin, and including us in Jesus’ relationship with his Father in the Holy Spirit. That is glorious grace, and forgiveness, and atonement, and real reconciliation, and love, and holiness, and right relationship, and mercy, and judgment.
Thank you Father, Son and Spirit for loving us beyond our wildest dreams.