You’re in a conversation and someone says, “Why would God punish Jesus for what I did? It’s barbaric and abusive that He would require a blood sacrifice from his own son for sins Jesus didn’t even commit. It sounds like ‘cosmic child abuse’.” What would you say?
It’s a reasonable question. They are correct about the cruel, injustice Jesus suffered on the cross, but entirely mistaken about the identity of Jesus, the nature of His sacrifice, and the love of God. So, the next time someone says, “The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross sounds like ‘cosmic child abuse’,” here are three things to remember:
First: Jesus was not a mere human
While it would be unfair to punish one man for the crimes of another, Jesus was not a mere man. Instead, the New Testament Gospels and letters describe Jesus as God incarnate. Jesus repeatedly identified himself as God, even calling Himself “I am,” the name God used when identifying Himself to Moses in the Old Testament. Jesus also spoke and taught with the authority of God, and demonstrated His divine power to create, forgive, judge and grant eternal life. That’s why Paul described Jesus as
“…the image of the invisible God… For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:15-16)
God, according to Christianity, is triune in nature, one being in three persons: God the father, Jesus the son, and the Holy Spirit. This truth is important because it’s impossible to understand what Jesus did for us on the cross if we mistake Jesus for a mere man.
Second: Jesus went to the cross voluntarily
God did not force Jesus to suffer the penalty for other humans. Instead, Jesus voluntarily took the form of a human and chose the path of the cross. Paul wrote that Jesus:
“…emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8)
Jesus, as a member of the triune Godhead, voluntarily submitted to the divine plan to rescue us. God did not inflict this plan on Jesus. Instead, all three members of the Godhead acted in perfect unison to accomplish for us what we could not accomplish for ourselves. As Paul put it:
“…God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…” (2 Corinthians 5:19)
God knew what He was doing when He took “the form of a bond-servant” and reconciled “the world to Himself.” This was not an act of cruelty. It was an act of love, motivated by mercy and grounded in grace.
Third: The sacrifice of Jesus is not an act of abuse, but a gift of God
When Jesus submitted to the cross, He displayed God’s concern and compassion for us:
“…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
God was not acting abusively toward Jesus; He was acting lovingly toward us.
Our situation is much like that of the thief. We’re fallen, human creatures standing before a perfect, holy Creator. We have repeatedly broken the moral law in one way or the other, in small missteps or broader leaps. We deserve to be punished for our crimes, but our Judge – the Creator of the universe – is willing to step down from the bench in “the form of a bond-servant” to pardon us, taking the punishment we deserve on Himself. That, my friends, is what God did for us on the cross. That’s not an example of “cosmic child abuse,” it’s a gracious gift from God.
So, the next time someone says, “The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross sounds like ‘cosmic child abuse’,” remember these three things.