Today is Memorial Day in the U.S., the day we remember and honor the many men and women in the military who have served our country to secure the freedom we enjoy. Some of those men and women have sacrificed a great deal in their duty to this great country, including family time, loss of limb, and even loss of life. Their sacrifice is a great gift to all Americans. It is a gift worth treasuring and sharing.
There is One who has made the greatest sacrifice and provided to us the ultimate gift. Often a song will inspire me to think more deeply about God’s love for us and the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for us. One such song is “My Savior My God” by Aaron Shust. The first three verses are:
I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands one who is my Savior
I take Him at His word and deed
Christ died to save me, this I read
And in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my savior
That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior
It is amazing and awe-inspiring to me that Jesus would give up His place at the right hand of God — even for a moment — to rescue me. And He gave up and endured so much more that He did not have to, but that He chose to because He loves me and you. It’s tempting to think how easy it was for Him because He always knew how it would all end and that He would return to the right hand of the Father when His mission was over. But if we think it was so easy for Him just because He was God incarnate we miss an important lesson or message of the Gospel: this was the hardest thing for God to do, this was the supreme Divine effort.
Being separated from His Father while He was on the cross after having been in communion with God constantly since before time began was the hardest thing Jesus ever did. The temptations of the devil in the wilderness were nothing compared to the temptation He must have felt to reject this whole plan of redemption before it even began with His earthly birth. Don’t we all know the temptation to say, “I’m just not going to go,” when a trip is one we know will be difficult? We know that in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus wanted the Father to take His cup of suffering away — He was tempted to give up on the plan — but He resisted that temptation and gave in to the will of the Father. He went through with the plan even though it was hard. Matthew 26:36-46.
The plan was also not easy for the Father who had to turn His back on Jesus when He hung on the cross. But like the shepherd who leaves the flock to rescue one stray lamb, God, for what must have seemed like an eternity to one who knows no time, left His one and only Son, the Lamb of God, to rescue the flock that had strayed.
The Godhead was split, separated, just long enough to allow us into His fellowship, to return us to the flock. I don’t completely understand this plan. But as St. John Chrysostom once said, “A comprehended god is no god.” I do know that this awesome gift of salvation came at a very high price and is a gift worth treasuring and sharing.