On the cross, God became our sin, as Paul wrote: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us” (2 Cor 5:21). However, God didn’t begin to be a sin-bearing God when Jesus walked the earth and hung on the cross. Rather he became Incarnate and bore our sins on the cross because this is the kind of God he has always been. The Father is most “glorified” when the Son is crucified because the cross is the ultimate expression of the Father’s true character.
The OT actually foreshadows this cross-like love revealed by Christ—his other-oriented, self-emptying, and self-sacrificial sin-bearing nature—when the OT reveals how Yahweh often set aside his ideals to accommodate the sin and weakness of his people. For instance, in the case of the law, the OT theologian John Goldingay argues that Israelite law “starts where people are as sinners, and starts where they are in their cultural context.” The same may be said about the fact that Yahweh’s covenantal commitment to his people throughout the OT was such that he was, to some extent, willing to leverage his own reputation on their behavior and welfare, for better or for worse. As Sheldon Blank notes regarding Isaiah 52:5, “God is disgraced because of the disgraceful condition of his people.”
Daniel Block has made a solid case that this was the focus of the commandment to not “take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Ex. 20:7, KJV). It was an injunction for God’s people to not live in a way that brought dishonor to Yahweh.
This relational connectedness between Yahweh and his people which caused him to take on the sin of those people at the expense of his own reputation is also reflected in the way various authors frequently appeal to him to intervene or alter a plan for the sake of his reputation (e.g. Ex. 32:12; Num. 14:15-16). Moreover, throughout the OT narrative we find Yahweh allowing himself to experience profound pain at the hands of, and for the sake of, his rebellious people. And even when Yahweh felt he had no choice but to chastise his people, he did so reluctantly and often while expressing a grieving heart.
The cross constitutes the ultimate display of Yahweh’s “sin-bearing” character. It is the culmination of all prior, pen-ultimate expressions found in the OT. In Christ, Yahweh not only entered into, and was profoundly affected by, the limitations and sinfulness of humanity: in Christ, Yahweh became a limited human being, became our sin and became our judgment (Jn 1:14; 2 Cor 5:20). And in doing this, Jesus demonstrated that God didn’t begin to be the kind of God revealed on the cross, for if Jesus reveals who God truly is, he reveals who God has always been.
 E.g. J. Goldingay, Theological Diversity and the Authority of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 154.
 S. Blank, “Isaiah 52.5 and the Profanation of the Name,” HUCA 25 (1954), 1-8 (6).
 D. I. Block, “No Other Gods: Bearing the Name of YHWH in a Polytheistic World,” in The Gospel according to Moses: Theological and Ethical Reflections on the Book of Deuteronomy (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2012), 237-71.
Photo credit: Endre Majoros via Visualhunt / CC BY
The Father, Son and Spirit exist as the infinite intensity and unsurpassable perfection of eternal love. We know this about the triune God not by speculation but because Jesus demonstrated that love (Rom 5:8) in his willingness to go to the furthest extreme possible to save us. When the all-holy God stooped to become our…
Greg looks at a violent Old Testament story through a Cruciform lens. http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0447.mp3
As we’ve discussed in the previous posts, there has been a growing move toward a Christocentric orientation in theology since Barth, and especially over the last fifty years. I enthusiastically applaud this trend, for I’m persuaded it reflects the orientation of the NT itself, so far as it goes. The trouble is, it seems to…
Olga Caprotti via Compfight Micah J. Murray over at Redemption Pictures posted this reflection called Beware of Thinking Biblically. The image of a google search on the topic is worth the price of admission. Christians throw around this phrase in some really damaging ways, as Rachel Held Evans demonstrated in her recent publication of A Year…
God has always been willing to stoop to accommodate the fallen state of his covenant people in order to remain in a transforming relationship with them and in order to continue to further his sovereign purposes through them. This is revealed in the life and death of Jesus. Out of love for humankind, Jesus emptied…
The superiority of Jesus’ revelation over a montage view of God (see previous post) is captured when Paul and the author of Hebrews utilize an analogy of a shadow verses reality. Paul instructs his disciples not to “let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a…