There was a long pause as they both held each other. The intensity of emotion runs deep, but they both know the time has come. From the days of eternity Father and Son had been in close communion with each other, and now that communion was soon to be broken. The Son of God is to embark on the earthly part of His mission to save His human sons and daughters. Both Father and Son understand the risks and the cost involved, but love drives them on.
For a brief moment, the Father and Son look into the future and watch the mission unfold. The scorn, the rejection, the hatred, the spitting, the kicking, the lash, and the nails all pale into nothingness compared to that one horrid moment in time when heaven and earth stand still and behold the separation of Father and Son. The Son sees millennia of guilt, suffering, rebellion and worthlessness rolled upon Him as He shakes like a leaf, ripped and torn by the sense of sin that hides His Father’s face.
Turning from these future scenes, Father and Son embrace – how can the Father give Him up to this destiny? Before the foundation of the world the Father had wrestled with the possibility of the failure of this mission and the risk of losing His Son to the power of sin. The Son of God would take human nature upon Himself providing a window of opportunity for His arch rival, Satan, to overpower Him. Before the beginning there was no certainty of success. The Father placed Himself in a position where He might lose His Son forever in an effort to save us. The great compassion of the Father inherited by His Son was manifested in the Son’s appeal to His Father to let Him come to earth to save us. Would the Father let His Son do it? Would He let Him take that risk?
The depth of the Father’s love for us is measured by His love for His Son and the risk taken to save us. We catch a picture of the Father’s love when He spoke at His Son’s baptism.
And lo there came a voice from heaven saying: this is that my dear son, in whom is my delight. Matthew 3:17 (Tyndale)
The Father delights in His Son. There is no greater treasure in the life of the Father beside His Son. In speaking of His birth in heaven the Son of God exclaimed:
Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: (26) While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. (27) When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: (28) When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: (29) When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: (30) Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Proverbs 8:25-30
We picture the tender arm of the Father upon the shoulder of His Son as they communed together in the formation of the universe. God created all things through His Son, and it was a delight to the Father to see His Son exercise the powers and intellect that He had given Him.
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power… Hebrews 1:1-3a
The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. John 3:35
So close was the relationship between Father and Son that Christ could say:
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Matthew 11:27
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: John 10:15
For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. John 5:20
As Judah expressed to Joseph concerning their father Jacob’s love for his son Benjamin, so we can see that the life of the heavenly Father was “bound up in the lad’s (Christ’s) life.” Genesis 44:30. As any loving parent knows, there is nothing you would not do for the love, nurture and protection of your child. Such is the love of the Father for His Son. It is in this context that we can contemplate the greatest text in Scripture:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
The two letter word “so” speaks to us of a love that cannot be fully comprehended. As the Father listened to the pleading of His Son to save us, the Father went through the horror of a great darkness for which no created being can ever truly appreciate. After a tremendous struggle the Father in love to His Son and us granted the Son’s request to save the human race. Such amazing love, such incredible, wondrous love – this shall be our theme throughout eternity.
As we indicated previously, the sufferings of Christ were not restricted to His mission on earth. As soon as there was sin there was a Saviour. It was the Spirit of Jesus that had sustained the holy pair in Eden. When they partook of the fruit according to the suggestion of Satan inhabiting the serpent, Christ was crushed by their rejection of Him and His Father. After all they had been given, their selfish ingratitude caused Christ terrible pain as any parent knows when their children turn from them. Yet Christ did not forsake them. The only way they could have life was for Him to stay with them by His Spirit and continue to give them life all the while they were trampling on His Father’s law and character.
Every time an Israelite committed sin they were to bring a lamb as an offering.
'If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally by doing something against any of the commandments of the LORD in anything which ought not to be done, and is guilty, (28) or if his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, then he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. (29) And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering. … and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a sweet aroma to the LORD. So the priest shall make atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him. (32) 'If he brings a lamb as his sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish. (33) Then he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill it as a sin offering at the place where they kill the burnt offering. Leviticus 4:27-29, 31-33 (NKJV)
This process reveals the sad truth that every sin causes suffering for the Son of God. From the first sin until the present day, Christ suffers the agony of rejection and a deep sorrow for what His lost children do to each other on the earth. Each sin causes Him to be crucified afresh and put to an open shame. Hebrews 6:6. This level of suffering is beyond our comprehension; it seems utterly impossible to us that the sufferings of Christ are not simply forty eight hours, leading up to and including the cross, or even thirty three years on earth, but actually six thousand years of constant suffering and rejection. If it were possible for us to grasp all of this suffering as it reaches into the heart of the Father, we would truly see the suffering of the Father is no less than that of His Son, for every parent suffers when their children suffer.
… God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NKJV)
Can we but dimly perceive the suffering of the Father as He was intently watching the world’s treatment of His Son? Can we imagine the tearing at the Father’s heart when His Son asked Him:
…"O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26:39
We might draw some comfort in knowing that the suffering of Christ only took place two thousand years ago, but right now Christ is suffering for all the children that Satan has snared in child sex trafficking; He suffers for all the homeless and starving children, made such through the selfishness of man; for all the victims of domestic violence and rape; for all the millions caught in drug and alcohol abuse; for the hundreds of people every day that seek to take their own lives—Christ feels it all and so does the Father. This suffering is not restricted to the victims of cruelty but also the perpetrators. The Spirit of Christ seeks to save the abusers of others by convicting them of their sin. The guilt that is felt is sent not to condemn them but to save them from hardening their hearts and losing their souls. The guilt that is felt is sent to rescue, not simply to damn. As the soul shuts out the guilt with alcohol or drugs or anything to stop the mind thinking about what has been done, so Christ is despised, rejected and silenced. This is happening in billions of souls every day, as they turn from selfless love upon this cross, a sight too brilliant and bright to behold.
At this point we might be tempted to cry like the Pharisees:
…"You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross." (41) Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, (42) "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. Matthew 27:40-42 (NKJV)
We see the true response in the life of Mary Magdalene. She comprehended what Christ was to suffer on the cross for her, and she believed that through His actions she was forgiven. Her gratitude overflowed through the rich current of perfume that came from the alabaster box made for a King.
Yet the question must be asked: if God is so powerful then why does He allow Himself and His Son to be subjected to so much suffering and pain? Secondly, why doesn’t He step in and simply stop all of this suffering? This is the subject of our next chapter. For now behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, and wonder at the love and forbearance of our heavenly Father to endure this suffering for the past six thousand years. Indeed, God SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.