Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Sacrifice

Never has a God given more for His people than our God gave for us on this week nearly 2,000 years ago. When we talk about this, we usually talk about the loss of His Son. That God gave His "only begotten Son." We talk about the agony of that moment on the Cross when God turned His face away from the dying Jesus. 

Any parent knows the tremendous heartache this was; any child knows the incredible pain of this moment.

But is that all there is? I mean, really?

I know, I know - Christ hearkens back to Isaac, God to Abram, on Mount Moriah. It's one of those experiences that bridges the gap between Old Testament and New. An almost-sacrificed son to One freely given. And blah, blah, blah. It's just that, it seems, something must be missing from this story.

About six or seven weeks ago, I was reading something (the Bible? Another book? I really should take better notes) when I ran across a sentence that phrased it this way: God sacrificed Himself.... That's it. That's the part that hit me. And I started wondering what exactly that means.

Besides His Son, what did God have to give up to save us?

I've been rolling this thought around in my head since I first had it, saving it for Easter and hoping that by now, I'd have something more concrete or at least better-sounding to say about it. I mean, it's a big concept. Especially for a people who have been taught to believe the big deal was His Son. (Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't.) We have David saying, "I will not offer a sacrifice that costs me nothing;" can we really expect less from the Lord?

So, just off the cuff, let's think about this. God first gave up His original hope for Creation. He gave up everything He ever wanted out of you, out of me, because by this point, He realized it wasn't happening. He gave up every plan about our walking together, about our living in His presence. He sacrificed His "good" Creation for 2.0, a reworked plan that was never in the plan at all. That's a sacrifice.

God gave up His perfect nature. In the flesh of His Son, He embraced imperfection because you can't live in an imperfect world without having a few imperfections yourself. (Yes, we say Jesus was perfect, but I have had this thought before, too - that He simply couldn't have been. Not and live in a place like this. Rather, Jesus was Unbroken.) He came into a fallen flesh, and no longer can our God say that He doesn't know what imperfect feels like. We know He said that "My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts," but now, He has been in our ways and in our thoughts. By default, His are still higher, but no longer are His wholly separate from ours. Rather than man coming to think like God, God has come to be able to think like man. That's a sacrifice.

Those are just a few. There are many, many more. Good Friday and Easter Sunday cost God more than simply His Son, although that cost would have been high enough; they cost Him some of His very God-ness, the very essence of who He is and who He always wanted to be. He willingly gave that up for us.

The cool thing, as anyone with love lost knows, is that He didn't just give them up. He gave them up for a chance to get them back. For a chance to restore the relationship where we walk with Him and sin does not come between us. For a chance to come back to a re-Creation that is simply "good" again. For a chance to be a perfect God in an imperfect world. And on that one, He got a bonus because now we know He does get it. He knows what this is like. He even gave up His Son for the chance to get Him back.

But that doesn't diminish the sacrifice. Because not even God, to some extent, could know whether this would pay off the way He desired. After all, this is the same God who gave man the world, save one tree, and we failed Him in that moment; now, He gives man salvation on one tree...who's to know if man will take it this time? Who's to know if man won't find some way to reject even this? God gave of Himself, lowered Himself, humbled Himself, and gave up His Son knowing He would get it all back but not knowing if He'd get us, too.

That's sacrifice.

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