How much do you supposed God loves you and me? John 3:16 tells us that He loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son, so that through believing in Him, we could have eternal life. That’s a great demonstration of love. But was He happy to do it? Did He only send Jesus, begrudgingly or hesitantly, to die, because it was necessary? Was He conflicted about it?
I always think of God the Father’s position in this from the viewpoint of an earthly father, which doesn’t really make sense anyway. I think that He surely must have been conflicted, because there’s no way I could do such a thing willingly. Then again, I would do it at all. I wouldn’t give up either of my sons, not to save an entire planet from certain doom. I’d do what I could to save my boys. So I’m not a good comparison to God. And in not being a good comparison, I can’t really attribute my emotions to God or understand His mindset. I assume He was conflicted, anguished, like someone who was forced into it. But He wasn’t. It was absolutely His will, and it pleased Him to do it. How do we know? Look at Isaiah 53:4-10. I have used the Holman Christian Standard Bible, because I think it best conveys the thoughts and emotions behind the sacrifice.
Now, you may look at whatever version you use and say, “but my version says it was His will, not it pleased Him.” Most versions say this. But there are different kinds of will. I will do that, but I’m not happy to do that. It may be my will to do this, so that something bad doesn’t happen (especially to me), but take away any fallout, and it wouldn’t be my will. But then there is my will, which is intrinsically in my heart. It cannot be changed. It makes me happy. I have a will to do it, because to do it would please me greatly. This is the kind of will we see in Isaiah 53:10. It was His will, because He took pleasure in choosing to crush Jesus severely. It wasn’t a will of obligation, because the ends justified the means, and so He would live with the means. No, it was the will of a Father – our Father – who was happy to do whatever it took to save us, to redeem us, and to protect us.
It’s important to take the whole definition into account when reading the Bible. I never did with this verse. I always made assumptions and projected my feelings into the text. But it’s important, because we get the full meaning. This is part of studying. We must take the whole definition into account, how it’s used throughout the Bible, and this will help us arrive at an understanding. In this case, I understand that God’s love for me was even greater than I assumed, because His pleasure was in my salvation so much so that it even pleased Him to crush Jesus severely. I never thought about it like that, but I will now remember that when I think about Christ’s dying on the cross. It pleased Him.
If you want to read the Bible and study it more in depth, here’s a great resource: The Blue Letter Bible. You can look up passages in whatever version you use, click on specific verses to look at them more deeply and see what the original words used actually were, and then you can click on that word to see its full definition, how many times it’s used in the Bible, and how it was used in each passage. And it’s a free tool! Below is the screen shot from the exact word in Isaiah 53:10 that lets us know it pleased God to do this for us.