“‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23).
The biblical texts are abundant testifying to God’s initiative and to the willingness of Christ. God gave. God offered. God sent. Christ was a willing sacrifice on the cross. Father and Son both willed the Son’s coming in the flesh and the Son’s death on the cross. They both freely gave of self and sacrificed self. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “This is how God showed his love among us: He…sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).
There must have been suffering and grief within the Father’s heart as the Son suffered.
I cannot help but try to imagine the struggle for the Father, the pain and the grief over the death of His Son whom He loved with a love beyond our experience, a love which existed before the beginning of time. To understand the relationship between God’s love for us and God’s grief, I consider the grief I have known in the death of my loved ones. Multiply my grief a thousand times. I have not begun to come near to the grief of God. Though the text does not so describe the events, I cannot help but understand the darkness during the crucifixion of Jesus and the convulsion of the earth as the heart of God grieving. Grief willingly experienced out of love for us. Oh how deep the love of God.
God grieved. God experienced loss. Experienced willingly out of His love for us. I see this in this outrageous truth of Immanuel, God with us. When the clouds have been terrifyingly dark, it is this truth realized in the cross of Jesus Christ which has brought me back from the brink of unbelief.
This outrageous truth of Immanuel, God with us, brings me to my knees in humility, faith, and gratitude. By His grace and love poured out, God lifts me up to worship Him. He raises me with Christ to live in righteousness to the glory of His name. At peace with God through faith in Christ, I live in hope, hope of the glory of God to come, hope that will not disappoint.
(If you want to hear an audio version of this brief series, click on this link: http://www.fscoc.org/go/downloads, then click on Sunday Morning, December 13, 2015.)