God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (1 John 4:9-10 NLT)

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

Nearly every parent has either said it or thought it: “You do something to hurt me, it’s forgivable, just don’t hurt my kid!”

I will never forget when our first child was born. I was not prepared for the incredible and new type of love that flooded my soul. Here was a human being that I did not yet really know and who would not be able to respond back to me emotionally for several weeks, yet I loved him with an overwhelming and protective love. It was a different kind of love than I had ever known. The power of this love, its pervasive pull across all of my life, was astounding.

My love for our son deepened and widened as he began to respond to my efforts to speak with him, to comfort him, to giggle with him, and to reassure him. Several years later, when our daughter came along, I had as much love to share with her as I had to share with our firstborn. That protective love for my kids wasn’t diminished because there was another one to love. Instead, that protective love was strengthened. I would give them anything within my ability. I would do anything I could that was for their good. I would do everything I could to make their lives better for them. Most of all, I would do anything, or take on anyone, to protect them.

I believe this God-created, protective love for our children is part of what makes the story of Golgotha so powerful. Yes, on one level, a story of the crucifixion of a Jewish carpenter doesn’t have much to stir us. (1 Corinthians 1:21-2:4) On another level, however, when that Jewish Carpenter is God’s Son, something reaches out and appeals to us that is beyond intellect or emotion. Something overwhelming happens to those who understand the protective power of parental love. It is the primal parental tug on our heart: “Do to me what you must, just don’t hurt my kid!”

Something in the Father’s agony at the Cross speaks to us. His ability to withhold his protective fury from his Son’s accusers, mockers, attackers, and butchers reaches us at a soul level that is deeper than words. The distance between our ability to protect our kids and God’s ability to protect his Son is expansive. Withholding his power to protect his boy, while allowing his torturous death to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins, wins our heart. Something inside us knows that we can only stand in awe of such love. Something inside that love wins us at the soul level. We become his children, too, bought by a grace beyond us. As the old hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross concludes, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!”

O God Almighty, your wondrous creation captures my imagination. However, dear Father, offering your Son as the sacrifice for my sins wins my heart. Thank you for paying the ultimate price any parent could ever envision. I am humbled that you paid such a horrific price so that I could be your child. Thank you in the name of Jesus, your Son and my Savior I pray. Amen.

Dear brothers and sisters, when I first came to you I didn’t use lofty words and brilliant ideas to tell you God’s message. For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. I came to you in weakness, timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. I did not use wise and persuasive speeches, but the Holy Spirit was powerful among you. I did this so that you might trust the power of God rather than human wisdom. (1 Corinthians 2:1-4 NLT)