Jesus did not wrestle His angry Father to the ground and snatch the whip out of His hand. Likewise, God did not force His Son to be merciful to humanity. God loves His people and demonstrated His love by sending His Son to die. The Son loves the Father and so was willing to suffer in our stead.
What Jesus did when He suffered and died was His Father’s idea. Yet Jesus was willing to die. Why?
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)
Why is this so hard to believe? Why do we struggle to believe that God loves us this much?
The answer is shocking.
The answer is that we actually prefer darkness.
…And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:19)
Like a guilty lover who can no longer look her husband in the eye, we prefer to hide in the darkness rather than come into the light. Like a guilty lover, we cannot tolerate the love and affection which we know we do not deserve.
Men love darkness. Not because the darkness is pretty. It isn’t.
Those who live in darkness spend their lives looking over their shoulder in fear of exposure. They spend their lives in anxious mistrust and fear.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. (John 3:20-21)
Men love darkness because their deeds are evil.
We know our deeds are evil, but the only place we imagine we will find relief from our guilt is under cover of darkness. It doesn’t work.
For those who come in out of the darkness, God offers the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. New life. The promise of starting over.
The reason why God forgives your sin is that, while you are enslaved to sin you are in the dark and you are not living. The reason why God wants you to forgive the sins of others committed against you is that, while you are living with guilt, shame and bitterness towards others, you are not living in the light.
And since God loves you, He wants you to live. He wants these things for you so much that He was prepared to do the dying for you.