Yesterday we celebrated Easter Sunday. This year was a bit more special as it was my daughter’s first Easter Sunday. We dressed her up in a cute little Easter outfit and went to church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and took a lot of pictures. It was an incredibly enjoyable time.
Easter tends to be one of my favorite Sundays of the year. I love how everyone appears to be focused on the sacrifice of Jesus. Even though I’m reminded all year long about the sacrifice that Jesus made, the concentrated effort to remember his death, burial, and resurrection becomes more centered in my life than much of the rest of the year, much as I hate to admit it. My thoughts this year, however, took a different turn from the normal.
As I said, this year was my daughter’s first Easter celebration. Likewise, it was my first as a father. And that’s where much of my focus lay this year. Fatherhood.
Normally, I’m all focused on Jesus during the Easter season, and rightly so. I think about the sacrifice he had to make. I think about him in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying to God that there would be another way out. I think about the beatings, the crown of thorns, the mocking, and the suffering on the cross. I always think about Jesus and how difficult it had to have been to go through everything he went through. I approach Easter from the perspective of Jesus, and I insert myself in his place, asking, “What would I have done if that was me?”
Inevitably, I conclude that I couldn’t have been Jesus. I wouldn’t have been that strong. I probably wouldn’t have made it past being arrested in the garden. Instead, I would have been one of the disciples. I would have fled, tail between my legs, and denied ever knowing him in the first place. That’s where I usually am during this time of year.
This year, though, my focus shifted. While still mindful of Jesus’s role in all of this, I approached this Easter from the perspective of a father, and I focused a lot more on God’s role in everything. What was God’s role in all of this? The scriptures don’t seem to talk much about God the Father during this difficult time.
And that’s the point.
God’s role in all of this was to not intervene. God the Father. Almighty. All powerful. All knowing. All seeing.
God, who can make anything happen, did nothing. He turned his back on his son.
And then I look at my daughter. Her cute smile. Her sweet innocence. Her total reliance on my wife and me. And then I ask myself, “What would I have done?” Would I have done the same?
We often focus on the pain and suffering that Jesus endured during his torture and execution, but what about God? What kind of torture did he endure through all of this?
It’s not something that I could ever understand until now because when I look at my little girl, I see an innocence that I want to protect. I want so badly to keep her from experiencing pain and suffering in her life. I want to punish anyone who would even think about hurting her: physically, emotionally, mentally, whatever. My instinct as a father pushes me there. An instinct that I believe we get from God.
And if God loves us and wants to protect us from harm, how much more does he feel that for Jesus?
The truth is, God has spent all of history trying to protect us from ourselves. In the Garden of Eden, he didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of knowledge of good and evil because once they did, they became aware of everything they were doing wrong. He tried to protect their innocence.
Throughout the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites the sacrificial system to help them repent for their sins because he cared about them and wanted them to be with him one day. They had to try and get rid of their sins so that they could regain their innocence. Unfortunately, they couldn’t completely do that. Once innocence is gone, it cannot be regained.
Yet God loved us all so much that he did everything he could to make it possible for us to be with him. Everything. So much so that he went beyond the sacrificial system. Because the sacrificial system wasn’t good enough. Something more had to be given in order to make it possible.
And so God took his son. His sweet, innocent son. A son who had done nothing wrong in his life. A son who was completely pure. He took that son and allowed all of the burdens and sins of the world to be placed on his shoulder, taking away his innocence. And because God is holy, and sin cannot be in his presence, Jesus, who had become covered with sin, became separated from God for the first time in all of history.
And then I ask myself, “What would I have done?”
The truth? I couldn’t have done it. I don’t want my daughter to have to experience pain, though I know it will happen. But I can’t even fathom allowing her to experience pain that she doesn’t even deserve. I can’t imagine allowing her to be tortured for the wrongdoings of someone who denies me and curses me. And I especially can’t imagine knowing that I could do something to alleviate that pain but choosing to remain passive.
For God to allow all of that to happen to Jesus must have taken more restraint than exists in the entire world. I can’t begin to understand how much it must have hurt him to sit back and watch it all happen. And yet, I know that the reason he did it is because he loves me. He did it because he loves you. He did it because he loved the world. And he wants us all to be with him one day.
I doubt that I’ll ever love the world as much as God does. I probably won’t even come close. But one thing is for sure. I’m so thankful that Jesus chose to show me that love. And I’m thankful that God restrained himself so that I could experience that love.