The Perfect Gift
Who is He in this statement? God! What did he not do? God did not spare his own Son. What did he do? He gave him up for us all. God sent Jesus to the cross, what Martyn Lloyd-Jones called, “The most amazing spectacle the world has ever seen.” The cross was where “the immortal dies,” as Charles Wesley wrote in his hymn, “And Can it Be?” Isaac Watts wrote in his hymn the cross is where “Sorrow and love flow mingled down.” The writer of Hebrews wrote that Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” John Stott wrote, “What dominated His mind was not the living, but the giving of His life.”
Jesus’ death on the cross changed the world. In his book, The Cross of Christ, F. J. Huegel writes about the days of rebellion in China in 1900, when a group arose in the country with the sole purpose of driving all the foreigners out of China, particularly missionaries from the west. This group captured a mission school, blocked all the gates but one, placed a cross on the ground at that gate, and sent in word that anyone who trampled on that cross could go free, but that anyone who stepped around it would be killed. The first seven children trampled on the cross and were allowed to go free. The eighth, a girl, knelt before the cross and was shot. All the rest in a line of a hundred students followed her example.” Jesus’ death on the cross changed the world.
Listen to Paul’s argument. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? In logical terms, this is an argument from the greater to the lesser. From the harder to the easier. He gave up his Son. For us. How will God not give us much more that requires much less?
Several months ago, a number of us gathered outside at 8am for a first work day on the landscaping around the church building. Remember? We worked for 8 hours breaking up the soil around the flower beds, digging up roots, loading up the debris and dirt in wheelbarrows and hauling it to the woods. It was back breaking work. I remember watching John take a pickaxe to a crape myrtle root, hitting it with blow after blow, cutting through it finally. What if at church the next day, one who had labored with John asked him bring a cup of water from the kitchen? Would John do it? Oh, I have no doubt. John is a man who serves. But also, getting a cup of water from the kitchen is a whole lot easier than swinging a pickaxe, hauling a wheelbarrow, or riding a two-man auger on rock-hard soil, as some workers did all day. It’s an argument from the greater to the lesser.
Joni Eareckson Tada, paralyzed in a diving accident more than 50 years ago, recently said: “Don’t assume that all I ever do is dream about springing out of this wheelchair, jumping up, dancing, kicking, doing aerobics. No I’m looking forward to heaven because of a new heart, a heart free of sin, sorrow, selfishness. That beats having a new body any day.” Do you hear that? It’s an argument from the greater to the lesser! Her body will be healed but only because of the greater miracle: her heart will be made perfect, free from sin forever. Because of what God did.
What did God do? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. That’s the hard thing. The greater thing. The greatest and hardest work ever done in all the universe. To understand this work, this sacrifice, we have to give human terms to it. I know God is God and nothing is impossible with God, but that doesn’t mean that not sparing his own Son was easy. No! It was infinitely hard for an infinite God to sacrifice his only Son. Why did God do it? Because of your sin and mine. Because of his wrath against your sin and mine. Because of his desire to have your sin and mine, and his wrath against your sin and mine satisfied, so that you and I could be saved, so that you and I could be forever in his presence, happy and holy and without sin. Because there is nothing you or I can do to satisfy God’s wrath against our sin. He had to do it for us.
He gave the perfect gift. Paul adds, “how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” If God did the hard thing for us, will he not also do the easy, small, even insignificant things for us as well?