In a recent message I gave (May 31, 2020) I mentioned that people have asked me, both Christians and non-Christians, how could I believe in a god who would kill his own son. I shared briefly my perspective on that thought but didn’t have a lot of time to unpack it theologically. After talking with a friend and colleague, I thought I should share a bit more about that question and refocus your thoughts and yet another way to try to understand Jesus and who He is and why He plays such a crucial role in our faith as Christians.
In reality, God didn’t kill Jesus! Jesus “willingly” gave His life to save our lives. Jesus “willingly” submitted His will to be obedient to what God was asking Him to do. Jesus “willingly” became sin for us, taking our shame and dying a humiliating death to receive the punishment we should endure because of our sinful “pre existing condition”.
In the same message, I attempted to deconstruct the Christian doctrine of the Trinity; one God with three natures or characteristics… God the Father and creator, Jesus the son and redeemer and the Holy Spirit who is our great sustainer. And then (and this happens to me a lot), I was reading a book on Sunday afternoon and came across a beautiful and brilliant explanation of the Trinity in a book by Dallas Willard entitled, Living in Christ’s Presence. Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God.
I think the following excerpts from the book fit well into this conversation about the willingness of Jesus to give His life for our life…
“What do you think life is like within the Trinity? Do you think there are a lot of arguments over who’s the most omniscient? Who’s the most omnipotent? Who’s the oldest? The idea in the name is that it contains the character, the identity, the dynamics and the reality of the Trinity. We are talking about submersion in the name of the Father and the Son and the Spirit.”
“There are a number of texts in the New Testament that speak about the dimension of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). In other words, the Spirit will remind people about Jesus. Jesus also said, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (John 16:13-14). In other words, the Holy Spirit does not clamor to have attention focused on himself. His constant ministry is to get people to focus on Jesus.”
“When we look at Jesus, we see that Jesus didn’t walk around saying, “I’m the greatest.” He said things like, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing.” Jesus said he did not come to be served, but to serve. He submitted to the Holy Spirit.”
“Then there’s the Father. Twice in the Synoptic Gospels we hear the voice of the Father: once at Jesus’ baptism, once at his transfiguration. Both times the Father said, in effect, “This is my priceless Son. I am so pleased with him. Listen to him. Pay attention to him. Love him. Follow him.” It is worth noticing that the voice from heaven does not say, “Listen to me too, after listening to him. Don’t forget. I’m here too. I’m the Father. Remember me. Don’t get too taken up with my Son.”
“Each member of the Trinity points faithfully and selflessly to the other in a gracious, eternal circle of love.”
“It’s the circle of Father, Son and Spirit. The Son submits to the Father, and the Father loves to glorify the Son, and the Son is driven by the Spirit, and the Spirit reminds everybody of the Son. The Father also sends the Spirit, and there is an endless, eternal, humble, gentle—all those words that Paul wrote way back in Ephesians—community. That’s the Trinity with one another. That’s what’s real. That’s the most real thing in existence.”
Jesus “willingly” came to this earth to give us a new commandment to love one another and to demonstrate that love in humble submission to one another, sacrificing our rights and privileges so that others could find freedom and joy and wholeness in Jesus!
Romans 5:6-8 (CEV)... 6 Christ died for us at a time when we were helpless and sinful.7 No one is really willing to die for an honest person, though someone might be willing to die for a truly good person.8 But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful.
How are you “willingly” giving up your rights and privileges so that someone else can find freedom in Christ?