“The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes,” writes the Psalmist. Through the millennia, millions have wondered along with him about the plan and the goodness of God. One of the greatest plans was the salvation of humanity through the sacrifice of His Son.
Lately this plan has been questioned. Succinctly, the argument is that God could not be good, if he allowed this violent death for his Son. This argument was initiated by feminist/womanist theologians who are against the violence in the Bible. They argued that the violence is a sign of patriarchal behavior of domination, oppression, warmongering, and violence. According to these new theologians, a good God would not allow violence. Based on this criteria, God the Father cannot be good if he allows this to happen to His Son.
How did the argument develop? In addition to the patriarchal warmongering and violence, the issue was that no mother would allow or wish for this horrific death for their son. This is the reversal of the statement when Jesus says, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” If humans are against violence, then God who embodies goodness and love cannot allow this evil violence upon his son.
Horror about violence is not new in academic circles. In a lighter reflection, someone asked what is so good about Good Friday. The good in Good Friday is for us; the pain is for the Son of God. It is upon this evil cross that God makes His Son into sin for us, so that we may become the righteousness of God. The Son experiences the wrath of God so that we can experience the goodness of God.
In the first millennium, Christians discussed whether this was the best plan that God could come up with. They concluded that God could have used other plans, but he chose the sacrificial plan which reached perfection in the last sacrifice – His Son. The Old Testament sacrificial system pointed to the necessity of a perfect sacrifice. John the Baptist saw this when he cried, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes the sins of the world!”
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I think that the Apostle Peter was as aware as we are today of the cruelty of the Roman cross (which he himself later had to endure) and the violence perpetrated against the Son of God. And yet he writes, “You were not redeemed with silver, gold, precious stones, but with the blood of the Lamb of God.” As I listen to the arguments against the redemptive plan of God, I am humbled by my sinfulness and God’s mercy. Seeing the realized plan of God, I conclude that the Lord’s doing is marvelous in our eyes, as I sing that well-known song, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” As I praise God for my redemption, I remember that verse from Revelation, “Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”