Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

I just read an essay on Jesus “absorbing the wrath of God” on the cross. It almost made me throw up. With such ease and passion and not a little patronizing the writer split Jesus’ Father into two different persons, and then ripped the Father-Son relationship apart, apparently without even knowing it, or caring. What madness. I suppose the Holy Spirit just stood there dazed wondering whose side he was supposed to join. There is something sinister about the need to have the Father vent his rage upon his own Son. And even more so when one then tries to call such an act “glorious grace.” But punishment is not forgiveness, and murder is not grace, and Jesus did not suffer the wrath of his Father, and the Holy Spirit was not torn between two lovers.

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” (MT 20:18-19)

It was the human race—not the Father—who condemned his Son. We cursed him. We poured our scorn, our wrath, our rage upon Jesus. We murdered him. And Jesus deliberately submitted himself to us and to our bizarre wrongheadedness. He bore our wrath. He suffered our enmity and died in the arms of our scorn. And he was not alone. His Father and the Holy Spirit were with him. And that is just the point. In the murder of Jesus the life of the Father, Son and Spirit found its way into our greatest sin—and overcame it. The cross is not about Jesus being forsaken by his Father; it is about the Father’s Son incarnate and the One anointed in the Holy Spirit submitting himself to the darkness of the human race, and thereby establishing a relationship with us as gross sinners. In the genius of the blessed Trinity our rejection and murder of Jesus were turned into the ultimate act of acceptance and embrace. In the murder of Jesus the blessed Trinity was “absorbing the wrath of the human race,” thereby forming oneness with us in our sin, and including us in Jesus’ relationship with his Father in the Holy Spirit. That is glorious grace, and forgiveness, and atonement, and real reconciliation, and love, and holiness, and right relationship, and mercy, and judgment.

Thank you Father, Son and Spirit for loving us beyond our wildest dreams.


Lyn Nethercote said...

It is such a different understanding, a richer, no holes barred kind of wonder, instead of us needing to pay lip service to 'unconditional love' when plain logic would scream 'this is inconsistent!'
I guess for me I experience grief still at no longer being able to join the community in the great drama of good Friday services. As you said, now I feel as though I want to throw up when the only emphasis is on Jesus' blood appeasing an angry god for me.
so glad I found your blog yesterday (Good Friday over here in Aus). Thanks.

Doug Johannsen said...

And when Jesus was resurrected he didn't hunt down and beat up on those who had falsely condemned him, whipped him, spit on him, stole his clothes, nailed him to the cross and speared him. No, he just rose up and lovingly lifted us all up with him in heavenly realms in the heart of the Father and Spirit. Blessings to all!

Pastor Paul said...

Baxter, another beautiful post demonstrating the magnitude of God's complete love for all of us.

Just a thought to go along with your post, since the 'fullness of God--Father, Son and Holy Spirit--dwelt bodily in Jesus, I submit that the fullness of Triune God felt the suffering and pain of the crucifixion and were full participants in Jesus' agony.

This makes, to me, the suffering of Jesus much more meaningful since our awesome Triune God went through the ordeal WITH Jesus for all of humanity.

Keep the great posts coming, Baxter.


Paul Kurts
Madison, AL

AK said...

"Loving the Father with all His heart and mind and soul and strength, the Saviour loved His brethren as Himself. He, the perfect elder brother, unlike the elder brother in the parable, sympathised in all the yearnings of the Father's heart over His prodigal brethren; and the love which in the Father desired to be able to say of each of them, My Son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found ; in Him equally desired to say, my brother was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." -J McLeod Campbell

Good Friday- the day that Jesus killed the first Adam, trusting for us. "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"

That's good news, the Father's heart for his Son and the Son's heart for his Dad, even on the cross!

B, you are missed! We hope to see you soon with your new book. ak

Anonymous said...

Absolutley Brilliant!
Reading this just made my day. This truly is Good Friday - for Papa, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are Good. I can't wait to read the new book on 'The Shack'. Tell 'em as it is...

Florian Berndt

bill winn said...

Let me share here my 7 year old daughter, Faith's Easter Song she wrote in her "spare time" at school.

You ARE the Father, You ARE the Father, You created everyone O my Lord... O my Lord, we are loved, yes it's true!

Thanks Baxter for all you have done in Jesus to help me help my little ones KNOW that they are indeed loved by the Father, His Son, and the Spirit.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

I used to be one of those who believed and taught that the Father poured out His wrath upon His Son.

Thank God I came across your ministry (via my pastor who, surprisingly I think, doesn't share your fundamental theological perspective).

I'm beginning to understand more and more how easily I've been influenced by the "Westernized" Christian mindset that seems to so often pit God against Himself. I realize that if we begin with a wrong idea of the Trinity and the perichoretic relationship between the Father, Son and Spirit; if we begin our understanding of God as a Unitary Being (the "omni" god that you so often speak of) rather than as the Trinity existing as the mutuality of Persons in the relationship of "love" (God is love), then we easily and invariably begin to separate the Persons of the Trinity. And when we do this we have no problem believing that the Father had to pour out His wrath upon His Son in order for atonement to be made.

Oh how we need to think about God correctly!

Thank you Baxter for helping me in this paradigm shift. My wife and I are enjoying this new journey very much. We still have a lot of theological hurdles to climb, but through your ministry (and others), we seem to be moving right along--slowly but surely!


David Moorman said...

The warfare against God's law, which was begun in heaven, will be continued until the end of time. Every man will be tested. Obedience or disobedience is the question to be decided by the whole world. All will be called to choose between the law of God and the laws of men. Here the dividing line will be drawn. There will be but two classes. Every character will be fully developed; and all will show whether they have chosen the side of loyalty or that of rebellion.

Then the end will come. God will vindicate His law and deliver His people. Satan and all who have joined him in rebellion will be cut off. Sin and sinners will perish, root and branch, (Mal. 4:1),--Satan the root, and his followers the branches. The word will be fulfilled to the prince of evil, "Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; . . . I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. . . . Thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more." Then "the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be;" "they shall be as though they had not been." Ezek. 28:6-19; Ps. 37:10; Obadiah 16.

This is not an act of arbitrary power on the part of God. The rejecters of His mercy reap that which they have sown. God is the fountain of life; and when one chooses the service of sin, he separates from God, and thus cuts himself off from life. He is "alienated from the life of God." Christ says, "All they that hate Me love death." Eph. 4:18; Prov. 8:36. God gives them existence for a time that they may develop their character and reveal their principles. This accomplished, they receive the results of their own choice. By a life of rebellion, Satan and all who unite with him place themselves so out of harmony with God that His very presence is to them a consuming fire. The glory of Him who is love will destroy them. - Ellen G. White, Desire of the Ages, pgs. 763-4

blogpastor said...

I was in Chiangmai, Thailand when I first heard you speak to a large group of YWAMers. I was so enthralled I bought a few of your books. Over this holy week I was reading God is for us and Jesus and the undoing of Adam. I felt so inspired, so caught up, so on fire. I must admit to still needing clarity on the satisfaction theory I have been so schooled in. Thanks for faithfully declaring the gospel.

Unknown said...

Baxter... Thanks for your insight and bringing us a true picture of the Father. I have been impacted by something you said to us in Denver: It's not God who was changed... it was humanity who was changed!

johnboy said...

Thanks so much Baxter. I gave an hour's devotion on Good Friday afternoon in our Parish Church in England where I am Vicar - in which I shared your Good Friday sermon from 'Jesus and the undoing of Adam'. What a blessing this understanding of the atonement is -your recent post underlines the wonderful truth which you (and Athanasius and the Torrance brothers) have uncovered. May the Lord strengthen your hand and extend the breadth of your influence in the world-wide church.

Pastor Paul said...

Hi all, I am moved to comment on David Moorman statements in this blog. I was a member of a Sabbath Keeping church for over 30 years, a group which traced its origin bank to Adventism and Ellen G. White. Sometimes it takes that long for one to see the horrible theology and error of ones ways which, thank God, I did.

EGW's writings focus on her opinion and interpretation of the OLD TESTAMENT and her spin on prophecies--99% of which are easily proven wrong. What a shame that honest Christians can be duped by literal interpretations of Old Testament prophecies which were MEANT for Old Testament peoples up until the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.

Quoting from fulfilled scriptures as though things are about to happen is quite insipid. Yet, many who do not know of the fulfillment of Old Testament shadows in Jesus continue to coerce the innocent with LAW and the Sabbath, and other of the 613 laws of the Old Covenant which was completely replaced in the New Covenant of the Blood of Christ.

In Jesus Christ The Triune God has redeemed, reconciled, and saved the entire creation and Humanity --ALL humans in His Love.

Law no longer applies--Thank you very much Ellen G. The sad thing is that it is nearly impossible to change the mind of those who blindly follow charlatens such as EGW. The Good News is that She and they are loved by God and saved by Jesus APART from any LAW.

Thank you Jesus for opening my eyes to the LAW LIE after 35 years of suffering under it.

Paul Kurts
New Life Christian Fellowship
Madison, ALabama

CHECK IT OUT if you have the courage.

a_seed said...

Good post. Last time after I studied the concept of "atonement" and guilt offerings in Leviticus, I realized God's anger was not in the picture. Not even once God's anger was mentioned as purpose of those offerings. I pointed this out, but no one dared to confirm that this observation might change our view of God.

Then some one brought to my attention Gal. 3:13, to say Jesus was cursed by God, because Paul quoted Duet.21:23. I haven't looked at the biblical meaning of the curse closely, but it could just mean suffering and carry the guilt, it doesn't have to mean the anger, right?

Anonymous said...

I echo Pastor Paul's response to David Moorman. Many, many scriptures could be referred to. I read John 12:42 ff last week - they reinforce the message. Jesus and His new covenant show once and for all that law is not the basis of salvation. Never has been, but never can be and simply never will be. It is, instead, all about Jesus. "Whoever receives me, receives Him who sent me."

Warren, Sydney Australia

Anonymous said...

Another comment on the actual post that Baxter has provided.
One of the reasons many misunderstand what happened on the cross is the wrong thinking about why Jesus cried "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I know Baxter has written elsewhere on how he believes that Jesus didn't say that in isolation but as a reference to Psalm 22. As I understand/recall it Baxter has argued that it was common for people to quote the first verse of a psalm to refer hearers to the whole psalm, and that if you understand Jesus to have been referring to all the Psalm then it changes your perspective on those words.
I want to take that argument a bit further. I've been reading the works of Bargil Pixner, a priest and archaeologist who lived in Jerusalem (at the Dormitian Abbey on Mt Zion). In his book, "With Jesus in Jerusalem" he argues that several of the words of Jesus on the cross link together to show that He was praying the whole of Psalm 22 as He hung on the cross.
The opening verse is obvious, being quoted in the gospel narratives. But Pixner suggests that when Jesus gets to the words in the middle of the Psalm about his birth, that is when He notices His mother, Mary, standing there faithfully. He then speaks to her and to John to ensure that His earthly mother is cared for.
He then comes to what we call verse 15, which is heard by those watching as "I thirst". Then Jesus quietly continues to pray Psalm 22 until He gets to the triumphant finish, which again is quoted. Compare the well known "It is finished!" (John 19:30) with the final verse of Psalm 22.
If correct, then this provides even stronger support for the belief that Jesus was not declaring that God had forsaken Him, but was praying a psalm which captured how he felt at the time as He bore the sin of the world. Sin makes men feel that God has deserted them, that God hates them, and the Man Jesus felt that way. But the Son of God, ministered to by the Holy Spirit as He fulfilled the plan of God to unite mankind and the Trinity, knew that God had not forsaken Him, as Psalm 22 ends up attesting.
The words of Jesus from the cross resound yet again with the message that all the ends of the earth shall remember and return to the Lord (Psalm 22:27) for "He has done it!"

Warren, Sydney Australia

Janice said...

Thank you Warren, for getting back to the actual post by Baxter. I had heard another explanation of the "My God, My God" Cross quote - but I like yours better. The main point is we know that neither God the Father nor the Holy Spirit ever forsook the Son. And how do we know that? Because they are also God and experienced it right along with Him, just as God experiences our lives, good and bad. When the heavy temple curtain was ripped in two - it exposed the Holy of Holies and that changed everything - it opened the door for us to be in intimate communion with God. HALELUJAH!!

calvin simon said...

we can only see the Father's heart for us, when we see his plan of adoption, in the light in which he intended for us to see it. Jesus reveals the Father's heart, but if we dont see adoption, we see a Father mad at His creation, and ready to deal out punishment. thank God for people like you that stand firm on making sure we know we are adopted and included in the life of the trinity. to not know this is to be tortured with the guilt and shame of adams fallen existence.

Anonymous said...

It has taken nearly a generation since the 70's Jesus Movement for believers to painfully recognize what modern evangelicalism has wrought. Awakening to the circular cliches, the theological fallacies, and forehead- -slapping superficial verbiage is a painful process, one which has brought me to near towel-in-tossings a number of times. When ideas about God just don't add up one must consider the alternatives, or leave it all to stay sane. The one haunting, elusive grand-mal idea is why the Relational God appears to act non-relationally, and why I am consigned to not a "life by faith", but a "life by imagination." Does it take a "Job's Badgering" of God to get an answer?

Anonymous said...

I am quite moved by the remarks of Anonymous about why the 'Relational God appears to act non-relationally, and why I am consigned to not a "life by faith", but a "life by imagination."' To me, this is what so many Christians end up feeling about God.

However, one of the key issues to finding the Relational God acting relationally is to come to grips with the idea that much of what the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) report is not to be used as the basis of Christianity. Without embarcing this idea, God ends up acting quite irrationally and "non-relationally" with us.

Thus, we get thrown back on ourselves trying to forgive so that we can be forgiven, trying to do enough good works so that God will notice us, and trying to control all of our bad thoughts so that God will hopefully have a conversation with us.

My point is that much of what is in the Synoptic Gospels shows Jesus pressing the pre-cross people hard up against the cross with their silly law notions. Once the cross took place, this pressing was no longer needed.

As such, starting with the Gospel of John and working to the end of the Bible, we see the testimony of a God who fully accepts us--warts and all--and who is quite relational with us always.

All the best!

J. Richard Parker

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. Kruger,

What has happened to the understanding that God's wrath is the temperature of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit's love and that the wrath of God revealed in the gospel is the all-consuming fiery and passionate love against all of man's rebellion and insubordination? What about Jesus Christ, the Son of David and the Son of God, who bore that fiery love against the sins of the Jews and Gentiles, and therefore all mankind, in the place of all men and women who ever lived? What about God's righteous judgment that has been revealed in the bearing away in our place by Jesus Christ, the one true Israelite and Son of God who never was subordinate or rebellious in His human will against the Father's will in the Spirit? What about Jesus Christ being the Son of God who is the Judge and at the same the Judged as a sinner in our place once and for all, yet without having committed sin Himself? What about the grace of the judgment on the cross that is revealed in Jesus Christ bearing that loving wrath of God's 'No' to man's ungodliness and putting it to rest in death forever? What about seeing the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the vindication and acquittal of all mankind and the raising and ascension of mankind to obedience in Christ to God?

Mark Schnee

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Schnee,

those theological perspectives are those of certain Reformed thinkers, but not necessarily what the Bible is actually saying. Engage those issues with Baxter and the rest of us, by all means, but please don't just throw a set of theological propositions around as if they are self-evident truth.
For example, the argument that Jesus on the cross was bearing God's wrath is based largely on a reading of the words "my God, my God why have you forsaken me?". It is at least highly debatable, and probably totally wrong, that they mean the Father had actually forsaken the Son. In the end Psalm 22 is a triumphant declaration that God does NOT forsake His servant, even if it feels like it at times. That is what Jesus was declaring from the cross - that though the people who put him there had forsaken Him, God had not. And in that wonderful Trinitarian unity at even that most dreadful moment, God's embrace of sinful humanity declares Jesus to be the Judge, the man of 'crisis' (which is what judgment means) and that man's eternal condition is now based on relationship with Him, not on law.
Debate, please, from the Bible, not from theology.

Anonymous said...

I would add that the wrath of God is anger that man has fallen, but not anger at man for falling. It's anger at Satan and if you read Revelation, for instance, it is Satan who is destined for the eternal fire first and foremost. Those who, despite being embraced by God through Jesus' humanity and death on the cross, still choose Sstan will share that with him, but not because an angry God banishes them there. A loving God gives them the consequence of their choice. The Bible is full of warnings about not rejecting God's love, but the starting point is always the presumption of His loving acceptance, not the presumption that He is angry with you and you had better shape up and mend your ways or else His anger will remain.
Jesus died for all. Doesn't mean all are 'saved' but it does mean that the issue now becomes what people do with the message of God's loving embrace, rather than whether they are good people or not.

Anonymous said...

Hello, do you respond to a person who veils himself or herself in anonymity and doesn't make herself or himself known? Even our one God in three distinct hyposteses, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one being of God, who is invisible has made himself known and visible to us in the incarnation of Jesus Christ of Nazareth who is the Son of God and the Eternal Son of God who is Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Col. 1:15 GNT: Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God. He is the first-born Son, superior to all created things)?

Mark Schnee

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Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Schnee,

if the argument is sound and not personal attack, then that is what can be engaged with, whoever puts it forward.

Besides, you are not far from the tree sir. Including in your post the letters that spell your name does not 'reveal' you to us at all. Your post could be interpreted as a smokescreen to avoid engaging the debate.

Anonymous said...

I found this article of N.T. Wright, expounding God's righteousness in 2 Cor. 5:21:, argue against the stand alone atonement theology statement.

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