By Anthony Gorsuch
The emotions that were expressed within the Godhead during the time of Christ on the cross can be paradoxical to human observance. Was God the Father angry with his Son? Does God the Father love the son for glorifying Him? Is the Son filled with joy as he extols the Father? Did the Son feel forsaken by the Father? The answer to these questions is yes. Paradoxical, yes, but still valid! A Dutch theologian, Herman Bavinck, once said,
Jesus’s death was not an accident; it had to happen. At the same time, seeing the death of Christ as satisfaction for sin, as divine punishment, does not mean that there is a rift in the Godhead between an angry father and the loving son he punishes. Through Christ’s death, expiation of sins, righteousness, and eternal life are secured for believers. God’s grace does not nullify the sanctification and merit of Christ but is the ultimate ground for that merit. It is the love of God that sent the son into the world (John 3:16), and on the cross Jesus remained the beloved son.
When Christ said, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This was not a fake emotion. Jesus didn’t just feel lonely, but he felt a true God-forsakenness. This was not an allusion, but a reality. The Scriptures say that Jesus was forsaken, but in the same moment, Jesus looked to the cross with joy (Heb 12:2). This is the same with God the Father, “But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering (Isa 53:10 NASB).” Christ felt and bore the weight of divine displeasure and severity while he was stricken and afflicted. By God’s hand, Christ experienced all the signs of a wrathful, avenging God. While this is true, yet in the same moment this is God who said at the Transfiguration, “this is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”
There is a conflict of emotions at Calvary. Is there a rift in the divine Godhead at the Cross? Herein lies the gospel. God, the Father, did express a full measure of wrath and vengeance on Christ for our sins. Yet, God is smiling at the Son with joy because the Son glorified the Father as he offered his most excellent, most complete obedience to the will of the Father (Phil. 2:28; Heb. 5:8; 10:5-10;12:2). While all his disciples would abandon the Son, he was not alone for the Father was with him (Jn 16:32). Christ did feel a truly forsaken by God at the cross, but he still looked to it with joy, because the Father will glorify him for his work (Jn 17:5). The Father gives the Son an inheritance, which is Christ’s bride (Jn 17:6-10; Eph1:18;5:25-33). The Son glorifies the Father as the Father is being glorified in destroying sin. The Father magnifies the Son by granting him an inheritance. Here we marvel at this divine interaction on the cross at Calvary!