Last night, we came to the Garden of Gethsemane in our reading for Holy Week. Jesus prays, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Matthew 26:39)
The kids can imagine the physical pain Jesus was soon to suffer on the cross with the nails and the thorns. But Stella was stunned by another aspect of suffering Jesus was about to face on the cross – being forsaken by God, His Father. She said, “So God turned His back on Jesus?! How could He do that?!” I (Matt was at a funeral) explained the separation our sin caused them, who had only known perfect union and harmony in their relationship to that point, and what a dread that anticipation was to Jesus. I joyfully pointed out that because Jesus was forsaken by God, when we trust Jesus to save us, we never have to fear that God will turn His back on us! Amazing! I could see the wheels turning and knew she was thinking along the lines of something I read by Sinclair Ferguson. I said, “It almost seems like God loves us more than He loved Jesus, doesn’t it?” She said, “Yes! It really does.”
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
The cross absolutely silences any doubts we have about God’s love for us. We see there the extent to which God will go to save us and make us right with Him. There is nothing more He could say or do to persuade us of His love.
And so the cross means everything for how we function in this life. It is a comfort in times of good providence and hard. Sinclair Ferguson explains:
[The cross] is where God demonstrates his love. I don’t know that Christ loves me because I am in the boat with him and the seas are calm. And therefore I don’t know that Christ doesn’t love me because I am in the boat with him and the seas are not calm. I know my heart will say to him, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?”[Matthew 8:23-27]
But with the cross I know he is saying to me, “The reason I am in the boat and the reason I am going to the cross is because I care. So my love is demonstrated towards you in this way.”
Read an interview between CJ Mahaney and Sinclair Ferguson on “God’s Love for Us Displayed in the Cross” here.