Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The expression of love on the cross

In my philosophy class, I've been learning that philosophy is all about dissecting thought and pointing out distinctions. Tim Challies makes an important distinction about whom the expression of love on the cross was primarily directed towards, us or God. I think his answer is correct and important to think through. May it humble us.
"So what we miss in the "I love you this much" story of the cross is that Jesus' death was not primarily an expression of love for us, but for his Father. It had to be this way. Jesus greatest love is not for us, but for his Father. His sacrificial death was not first for us, but first for his Father, so that he might ransom those whom his Father loved. Though there is no doubt that the cross is an expression of love for us, it is first an expression of love for the Father and an expression of obedience to the Father. There is abundant proof for this in Scripture. Jesus said, "I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father" (John 14:31). So that the world may know I love you? No, so that the world may know I love the Father. It was this love and obedience that sustained Jesus, even on the cross. Early in his ministry he had said, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work" (John 4:34). Addressing his disciples shortly before his death, Jesus said, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love" (John 15:9-10). The Apostle Paul says the same: "And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). In all these things, and especially in his obedience, Jesus expressed a heartfelt love to his Father."
He then asks a question regarding the song "Above All."
'Crucified, laid behind a stone
He lived to die, rejected and alone
Like a rose trampled on the ground
He took the fall, and thought of me above all.'

Did Jesus think of me above all? Or did he think of his Father above all? Were Jesus’ last thoughts on the cross of me or of his Father?"


  1. I agree that it was Jesus' love for the Father that sent Him to the cross. But there are other verses that showed that the Father's motivation for sending His Son: Romans 5:8 and John 3:16 are just the well known ones. But I appreciate the fact that Challies is challenging a popular Christian song lyric, because "above all" is way too simplistic.

  2. I want to take this class