I was working on editing our Luke commentary, specifically, Luke 22 and the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s an awesome, heart-wrenching, worship-inspiring scene; the Son is on His knees, praying fervently for deliverance if possible, but willing to endure unthinkable pain and sorrow if that’s the Father’s will.
And it made me wonder how, in light of this scene, we can ever think of an angry, unfeeling God.
There is so much to be said about this. But I was thinking of how often, our painfully limited language brings us to a place of picturing redemption something like this: We were helpless sinners staring down both barrels of God’s wrath. The divine order had been violated, we were found guilty, and God’s finger was on the trigger. Just at the last possible second, the innocent Son of God leapt in the way of the gunfire, taking the bullet for us. The Father apparently had just the one shot, and as long as somebody died, He was appeased. We get this image of an angry, vengeful Father, and a compassionate, self-giving Son who knows how to make God simmer down and stop hating us. Yet that is so far removed from the picture we see in the Garden.
Jesus was under the severest emotional strain any human being had endured. He was the sinless One, about to bear the wrath of God on behalf of a wicked humanity who had mostly rejected Him. Not only would the crucifixion be physical agony, it would be the most exquisitely spiritually painful thing He would ever face. As the hour bore down upon Him and His sweat became like blood, He asked the Father if there was any other way.
Yet He prayed, “Not My will… but Yours be done.” The will of the Father God led to the Son’s crucifixion.
God was not bent on destroying us that night when Jesus embraced the cross. He was bent on saving us. The Son laid down His life of His own power, for love of His friends (John 10:18; 15:13). And it pleased the Father to crush Him on our behalf (Isa 53:10). Father and Son went in unity together to that hill, with a spotless Bride in their mind. The cross was a singular, unified declaration of love from the Godhead — love for humanity and hatred for the sin that was killing us. The Father’s pleasure and the Son’s desire both brought forth redemption… and so it is we are saved.