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When I was younger, I struggled mightily with Jesus’ death on the cross. In fact, I struggled with the whole notion that God’s plan for my salvation required His son, His only begotten son to die a painful, humiliating death. More than once I asked, “What kind of God is this who would sacrifice His only son? How morbid can God be? Wasn’t there another way?”

Jesus, in his own agonizing prayer the night before his arrest, surely asked God if it were necessary for him to die. He was not shy in asking God to let him avoid the suffering that awaited him. He was, however, perfectly obedient to the will of his heavenly Father. God’s response to His son’s pleading was steadfast: Jesus must die.

But why?

Can’t we have Easter without have the cross?

It was while taking a class on the Psalms in seminary that I finally understood. Don’t get me wrong, my heart still aches for the agony Jesus suffered. But, I now appreciate what God knew all along: There can be no resurrection victory without defeating death.

"There can be no resurrection victory without defeating death"

Jesus died WILLINGLY because he wanted to please his Heavenly Father. He died because God wanted to defeat sin AND death through the obedient death of his only begotten son. Jesus carried the weight of our sin upon his shoulders to his grave. Then, with the power of Almighty God, he crushed the power of death by being raised from the dead. In so doing, he gives to us LIFE. Not only do we receive life eternal, we receive life abundant on earth!

When we find ourselves walking through times of suffering and sorrow, we can take courage knowing that the pain of our lives can experience the resurrection of joy through the power of Jesus. In fact, the joy is all the more meaningful because we walked through that time of pain.

Far from the actions of an angry, vindictive God, our Heavenly Father loves us enough to ask His only son to look Sin and Death squarely in the face…and declare victory.

I don’t know about you, that is the God I want to worship and praise.

Thanks be to God.