-Tom Dekorne, Elder
The throne room was quiet with contemplation – the silence was draped with a solemn tone as the throne guards watched the king and prince quietly discuss the growing distress just outside the palace gate.
Long ago, the once majestic & perfect kingdom was a masterpiece of order & justice, reflecting the nature of it’s ruler & king, where a mere look at the way life was conducted left a feeling of calm peace. Home. Security. Life. This was now long since a memory. A tide of evil had seeped onto the land’s borders and eventually invaded it’s people, conquering their hearts and twisting them into subjects with a will darkened against their king, seeking their own gain and way in the world.
The king maintained his authority over the land, and his one and only heir remained faithful to the kingdom by his father’s side. The day had finally come – the day they had foreseen through many years & that brought the solemn silence and quietly exchanged words in the throne room.
Soft echoes off cold stone were all that could be heard, save for the dull roar of the mob just outside the gate. The last of the emissaries had been sent and the result was the same. Insult. Mockery. Abuse. Rejection. The message was the same, but so few responded. So few could see what the kingdom was, too long had they lived in their blinded self-pursuit.
Twin tears struck the cold floor at the foot of the throne as the father & son broke from each other’s gaze, realizing what now had to be done. Gray hair tangled beneath the king’s glorious crown and covered the cheek of one that had seen more years than could be counted. Wisdom, discernment & maturity marked his countenance – the decision was made. It was painfully difficult to bear, but it is what had to be done.
The son rose from his knee and wiped his cheek. He had the type of face that wore wisdom well – beyond what would be expected of one not currently on the throne. Rather than being an example of youth and rebellion, he gave himself over to the pursuit of discipline, maturity and justice. He followed his father’s rule with a joyful heart, remembering days where such evil had no place in the land.
“It is time.” A single nod was all the son responded with to the father’s statement. Both men in their regal clothes walked from the throne and toward the gate. The howls and screams could be heard louder now, the protest was in fever pitch. Snarls and curses could now be heard as the order was given to open the gates.
Slowly the hinges turned to reveal the twisted faces, haughty eyes and angry furrows, held back only by curiosity of what was going to happen next. Was the war to begin? Who was to be sent now from the ivory towers, thought the crowd in defiance. The two men stood alone inside the court at the edge of the gate with the mob now in full view. A dull chant started to rise up when they realized what was going to happen. The scowls turned to cunning grins and the chanting grew loud as the father raised his hand toward the crowd as he looked at his son.
The prince’s eyes fixed on the horizon as he stepped outside the protective walls of the castle. It was the only way. He gave one final glance back at the king as if to offer him the last bit of assurance that despite the dire consequences at hand, this was the right decision. The gates slowly closed behind him as he moved forward into the countryside, toward the open hands of the mob. With cold eyes and and hateful smiles they reached out to grasp the prince. Royal blood would be theirs this day, not just a simple messenger this time. But this day is not the end of the story….
I wanted to paint this picture to help illustrate the unique experience God had in sending Christ into this world. As a triune God, our Lord had to exercise both the will to go and the will to be sent. He had to give the order and obey it. Normally there is one to command and one to execute the orders, but God had to both leave the perfection of heaven to walk with the undeserving, and send Himself out on that mission knowing the brutal end result.
The world he created in perfection was now fallen through sin – his citizens were now permanently separated from himself and would require his intervention to be redeemed. This redemption could only be bought with a perfect sacrifice – and only one candidate was available that fit the description (Rev 4). The way would be bought with blood. The blood of the perfect Son taken at the hands of those that hated him the most.
God the Father had to look at his son and appraise his personal safety and well being as less important than redeeming the rebels, despite the fact that the son had in no way earned the punishment to come. Even our little story doesn’t go far enough to illustrate that although the mob spilled the son’s blood, the most painful part of the ordeal was that the father would actually pour out his wrath and punishment for their disobedience on his son! The one who never displeased him and obeyed God perfectly would receive the full measure of the punishment for my sin. This was what Jesus wrestled over in Gethsemane, not a fear of the mob.
Simultaneously, God the Son had to exercise the will to obey the command to go. He would not be issuing an order from the throne and dishing out the punishment, distant from the actual consequences, but would be absorbing it directly. He would be the one to bear the stripes from hateful people that were so far beneath his glory, dignity & power. What an insult it was for them to even put their filthy, grimy hands on such a king! It is nearly unbelievable that someone in that position would submit to such a thing but worse yet, he would take the punishment from His Father, whom he had never displeased.
Let no man underestimate the depth of the love God has demonstrated to us in his journey to the cross. A steeper price could never be paid than for God to punish himself for a sinful people that would rather murder him than live under his rule. What an unfathomable love we’ve been shown! By grace we can receive freely what we could never work to earn back – peace with God. He achieved it at such a high cost that we can’t overestimate it’s value – He is far more worthy of our worship than we can comprehend.