Why would God voluntarily choose to give Himself up?
The origin of our salvation goes back to Adam and Eve. The Scriptures tell us that God made humans in His image and likeness. He did this so that we could all share in His glory. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they placed a great chasm between themselves and God. We have inherited this fallen state. No matter what we do or how we live, we are too small and sinful to repair this chasm. God, on the other hand, could pluck us out of this world and place us in paradise, but this would violate our free will. We have probably all experienced what it feels like to do something we do not want to do or be somewhere where we do not want to be. It can feel very intrusive. God respects us so much that he does not want to do that.
What else was there to do? Just cut off from us and let us go our merry way? No way; that would immediately annihilate us and the whole world. God loves us so much, that he would never desert us.
So what was left for God to do? The long, detailed answer is the Bible and all its contents. It describes God’s guidance of His people, the Israeli people, out of which the Son of God became human, in the person of Jesus Christ. As a human He related to us and to human suffering in every way possible. He hungered. He thirsted. He got tired. He was chided by His mother. As a toddler He was homeless and a refugee. Even though He taught and healed people, He was rejected. He was falsely accused. He was betrayed. He was physically beaten. He died on the Cross, as a pure and perfect sacrifice so that He could lift up the burden of our sins. He resurrected from the dead so that whoever believes in Him, could also be resurrected. He ascended into heaven to be next to God the Father; as he was before, but with one major difference. He was now in heaven not just as God but as a human being as well; with His body and all. He elevated humanity as far as it could be elevated, to godliness itself.
Why would God voluntarily choose to give Himself up? The short answer is given to us by Christ Himself: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
But what does it mean to “believe in Him”? Is it to pay lip-service, to just say that you believe in Him? No, our belief in Him is the way we live our life; it is our devotion and love towards Him. It is a true recognition and appreciation of His love and sacrifice. It is the recognition of our own smallness and sinfulness, and a complete turning away from sin.
Have you ever felt grateful for something that someone has done for you? Yes, it is natural. But has anyone voluntarily given up their life for you? Christ, our creator, the God-man, has done just that. Hasn’t He earned our gratitude and devotion?
† Fr G. L.
Source: April–May 2015 Lychnos Edition