On Sunday, we got to hear our friend Josh Rang speak. He made a comment that struck me in a new way and led me to a new awareness. Let me set the stage by explaining two things first . . .
Thing One: For most of my life, I’ve heard about how, while he was hanging on the cross, Jesus Christ took on the sins of the world—paid the price for our sins—and that God the Father turned away from his son. Matthew 27:45-46 says “From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ - which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (NIV)
On one level, I’ve certainly realized that this must have been most painful for Christ and have been grateful for his sacrifice. On another level, I really couldn’t understand what this meant.
Thing Two: Josh talked about how a loving father doesn’t discipline his children in anger, and commented if you are angry when you are disciplining a child, something is wrong. He added that God is never angry at us, as his children, because he poured out all of his anger on Jesus that day on the cross. He still may be disappointed with us and does discipline us when we fall short but he is no longer angry with us.
From there, my mind began to wander. I have four kids. I have to discipline them sometimes. But what if I disciplined Jameson every time MelodyJoy disobeyed? What if I took privileges away from Jameson whenever Jordan left his clothes in the bathroom? (Not that Jordan would ever do that.) What if I made Jameson mow the lawn any time Phillip didn’t get it done when I asked him to?
Furthermore, what if each time this type of thing came up, I was furious with Jameson? What if I screamed at him? Physically got in his face? Grabbed him by the arm and pulled him toward me? Sometimes I have disciplined the kids in anger, usually with some small bit of justification. Boy, did my anger create heat, but without any benefit!
So now, as I play this out in my mind, I’m punishing one of my kids for wrongs he didn’t commit. And I’m in a rage as I do it. Don’t you think he would find that unfair? That he would resent it? What kind of separation would that put between him and me? How abused would he feel? I bet he quickly would have an unmanageable anger in response to me and our relationship would be destroyed.
Now, think about Jesus Christ’s situation. He accepted the punishment not for the sins of just two brothers and a sister, but for all of mankind. Further, the Father poured his wrath out on the Son, severing--at least for awhile--what had been the perfect relationship for time immemorial. If I think it’s unbearable for one sibling to suffer unjustly for another, how much more would it be so for Christ? But he took on the punishment and accepted the anger of God for a season in order to shield us as Christians for all eternity.
This is all a bit too verbose and I’m guessing my analogy is flawed in some respects, but it helped me better understand, especially at an emotional level, what took place on the cross 2000 years ago. I plan to send an email to Josh and ask him what he makes of my thought process here.