“Did Jesus WANT to die on the cross?”
That was the question a boy asked me last Sunday during our weekly Awana program. When we present the gospel at Awana, we give kids the opportunity to visit with a counselor, if they have questions or want to receive Christ. As a counselor in these situations, it’s always interesting to anticipate the questions a child may ask. Some indicate that they want to trust Christ as their savior. No further questions. Six children received Christ last Sunday!
Some want to play 20 Questions, often for added attention. Questions can range from “Why did God make dogs drink with their tongues?” to “Isn’t the wind just God’s breath and the rain his tears?” Others have questions that reflect deeper spiritual comprehension, like this seven-year old.
“Did Jesus WANT to die on the cross?” He asked the question with such sincerity and concern on his face, that it struck me and has stayed with me all week. Jesus came for that reason. But did he really want to do that?
It’s a question any Christian struggles to wrap their mind around because it’s connected to one of the most profound truths of all eternity—the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God and the Son of Man.
I tried to explain that Jesus didn’t want to suffer and die on the cross. He didn’t look forward to the pain and punishment (ours, not his—Isaiah 53:5) any more than we would (Matthew 26:39-42). But Jesus loves his Heavenly Father and wanted to obey him more than anything (John 14:30-31). Also, Jesus loves us so much that he wanted to save us (John 15:13). Both were only possible if he willingly died on the cross.
Inadequately, I tried to relate Jesus’ quandary to obeying our parents when they ask us to do something that we don’t enjoy. We may not want to do it, but we do it out of love and obedience.
Jesus’ Good Friday love and obedience is the model for living out our faith, according to the writer of Hebrews: “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Just as Jesus looked beyond the cross to the resurrection and the joy in front of him, we’re to look beyond this life to the joy set before us, for our enduring faith, love and obedience.
He is Risen!