by Lauren Dyck
Through the cross, God’s love is exemplified
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
The greatest act of love, according to Jesus, is to lay down one’s life for someone else, and this is exactly what He, Jesus did.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!” God the Son showed the love of God by assuming human form and keeping God’s law perfectly, becoming the sufficient sacrifice for our sins.
We read in Romans 3, that the righteousness of God was manifested to all of us through faith in the work of Christ and we are justified by His grace through faith in the gospel.
The life of Jesus Christ displayed the righteousness of God, and because we are slaves to sin, we needed someone who is not a slave to sin, someone who conquered sin by their life, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:14-15)
Because the life of Christ displayed the righteousness of God, His death was able to satisfy the wrath of God.
All this, this atoning work of Jesus Christ, was because of the great love that God has for His children. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes I him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus became a sacrifice according to the will of God, by becoming a man and being obedient to God, even unto death.
“[Jesus] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)
In v. 6, we see Jesus’ deity verified, He was “in the form of God,” and the writer of Hebrews says it in this way, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power…” (Hebrews 1:3)
Then in Philippians 2:7 we see that Jesus “emptied Himself BY taking the form of a servant,” not THEN taking the form of a servant. We see an example here of subtraction by addition; Jesus was fully God but the act of adding the human nature did not remove His deity, but rather, Paul is stressing that Christ, who had all the privileges that were rightly his as King of the universe, gave them up to become an ordinary Jewish baby bound for the cross. Christ made himself nothing by taking the form of a servant. The emptying consisted of His becoming human, not of His giving up any part of His deity.
Then in v. 8, we see He humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross. The Roman cross was not just considered some convenient form of execution, but rather the ultimate sign of indignity & contempt, where the prisoner would be shamed while dying in excruciating pain.
Because Jesus was God in human form, He was able to provide an acceptable sacrifice in His body, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’’ When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all… For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:5-10, 14).
In the incarnation, life, and death of Jesus we see the ultimate example of God’s love. Jesus became a willing sacrifice knowing that He would be hated, shamed, scorned, and murdered by His creation, His creatures, yet He endured patiently because of His love for the very people who despised Him. He endured the anguish of the cross, the wrath of the Father poured out on Him because He loved us. Truly, no greater love can exist than this, to lay down one’s life for a friend, and in Christ’s willing sacrifice on the cross, God’s love is exemplified!
(Related posts: The Cross: God’s Wrath Satisfied)