This Good Friday: Nothing But the Blood

I will never forget the morning when I saw blood on my boy for the first time. He was not quite a year old, and he had pulled a side table over on himself. It landed right across his tiny upper teeth, still soft in the gums, and nudged one of them back out of place.

I wasn’t scared for his life. I knew he would be fine and that a few days would yield the calming perspective that is a gift from God to parents. But I lost it anyways.

I was beside myself, perhaps at the sight of such a perfect little face disfigured, but mostly because of that unmistakable color, that crimson in his grimace.

If you are a parent, you know the scene by heart. I’m told it never goes away, that the sight of your child’s blood is never welcome. It belongs in their veins, all of it, doing life’s work inside the bodies God entrusted to you for safe keeping so long or not so long ago. Whatever else we believe about health, no matter our differences, we hold universally to a severe dislike for the sight of blood on our kids. That is the story of parents and their children’s blood.

Today is Good Friday, which of course seems like a misnomer for the day when God allowed His Son to be killed. Let that sink in. Let it sink in that God allowed it, and that it was in fact the Father’s will for Jesus to be humiliated, tortured and hung by nails on a gentile cross.

And all of this so that God could spare us from the horror of His own wrath, which was poured out on His Son instead. You shouldn’t be able to wrap your mind around the enormity of the cross, the spiritual mechanics that occurred when God spared not His Son. But you should try to embrace what it says about the Father.

It’s basic doctrine, but consider the scene as a parent. Isaiah met me at the chain link one afternoon last week and jabbed his little finger through to show me a few drops of blood smeared where a thorn had pierced his skin. The wail that he had been holding in deepened my compassion for him as I cradled him toward Mommy in the warm afternoon air.

Jesus was pierced by thorns, and the blood they drew from His brow must have been a horrific sight to His Father in heaven. There must have been compassion, heartache — the reactions of love against its object’s suffering. This week in particular, we focus our affections, for good reason, on the Savior who endured the cross for our redemption. But what about the Father? What did He endure that day?

We know He is a distinct personality — distinct enough from Jesus Christ that He could declare at the river, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased,” and with whom Jesus could plead in the garden, “Let this cup pass,” as if to change His mind. We know God the Father could experience pleasure in His Son, the righteous life He lived, the love He lavished, the way that Jesus gave Himself to the last measure as a servant. And Jesus implored His Father, as any child does, on more than one occasion. Have you noticed that Christ, from the cross, uttered that same agonized syllable that parents must answer endlessly today? “Why?”

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These glimpses describe a real relationship between two persons of the triune God that we can’t understand, but that God has chosen to reveal to us in the picture of a Father and a Son. I wonder why we don’t spend more time considering the grief that the Father endured to see Jesus bleeding? Because it was His will? That is basic doctrine, as well, but I think it is careless to gloss over what it cost the Father to deliver His Son to be crucified, and the reason is this:

It hints at the immensity of God’s love for me.

When the blood flowed from Jesus on Golgotha, I cannot imagine that His heavenly Father was standing by in cold indifference just because it was His plan. As a father myself, I simply cannot imagine it. If He could feel the pleasure of a parent, then it follows that He could feel the pain.

Now let me add this: I would not give my son to die in your place. I don’t care who you are. I might be willing to lay down my own life, but there is no way that I could bear the agony of offering up my firstborn. Much less if it was to pay the death penalty for your crimes. Unthinkable.

I could not bear it.

But God did, and it brings us back to a great pillar of the faith. Read it this dark Friday with a fresh perspective of God’s unfathomable love — not only for the world at large, but specifically for you, a criminal adopted to be His child, purchased with the precious blood of His beloved boy.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”