One of the incomparable joys of life with a newborn–the premier rose among the thorns of sleeplessness and dirty diapers–is the chest snuggle. Some of my sweetest moments with Samuel have taken place with him laying on my chest, legs tucked in, our breathing the only communication. Such nearness affords an intimacy so profound that the Bible uses it to describe the greatest non-erotic affection between two people. In the beginning, John writes, the Son was “in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18). This is not the image of God the Father cuddling with an infant Son but of the deepest communion possible.
As I tasted a slice of this heavenly delight with Samuel on my chest this morning, my thoughts turned to the fuller story of God the Father’s relationship with God the Son. This narrative involves not only eternal, ineffable intimacy but also a sending out for sacrifice that would, temporarily, require a breach in this beautiful relationship. In order to enfold rebellious image bearers into this divine love, the Father sent his Son to bear the consequences his people’s treasonous acts, plunging him to the nadir of disfellowship: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Such sacrifice is nearly incomprehensible to me. Whether I am marveling at my newborn son’s inquisitive eyes and tiny frame or engaging my older boys’ goofiness and curiosity, the thought of sending them out to sacrifice themselves for others is not even a remote consideration. As Sara Groves sang about her son in Prayer For This Child, “every instinct in me wants to shield him from pain, take the arrows of misery, heartache, and blame.”
So as we approach Holy Week this year, we need time, attention, and the Spirit’s illumination to fully grasp the self-giving love God displayed on the cross. Following this Sunday’s wrap-up of our series on The Gospel at Work, we will spend the three Sundays before Resurrection Sunday pondering the cross where “sorrow and love flow mingled down” (Isaac Watts, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross).
Let me invite you to use this season to focus your heart on the Father’s indescribable gift of his beloved Son. Mark your calendars to join us for our Maundy Thursday home gatherings and our Good Friday evening service on April 2nd and 3rd. Spend time reading through the gospel narratives to engage in Jesus’ journey toward Jerusalem. Ponder the sorrow of the Son’s alienation from his Father on the cross and the love for us that led to such a moment. Ask God to draw you deeper into his loving embrace.
May Christ be honored as we meditate on his sacrifice and receive all the benefits of knowing him.