I whisper the confession. “Oh, Abba, I’m sorry I only have a messy, broken, cranky me to give you as we begin this day. I want to give you so much better.”
He whispers back. “I want you as you are, not as you think you should be.” He speaks this too: he doesn’t equate broken with ugly or undesirable. Pictures flash through my mind: a little bird, heart pounding frantically against the hand that cupped it; a baby lying limp, burning up with fever; a little girl, filthy and vomiting, so beautiful in her desire to draw close and hold my hand. Their vulnerability bound my heart to them. Their brokenness highlighted their preciousness; I was not willing to lose them. I would invest all I could to heal these beautiful, broken ones. I loved them.
He whispers again: “And if you, though you are evil. . . . how much more will your Father in heaven. . .?”
“Then, Abba, will you take this beautiful, cherished, valuable heart of mine, this tired, hurting, utterly dependent heart, hold it in your gentle hands, and heal it with your tender love?”
“Thank you.” It is a hushed thank you, one of receiving a precious gift, of acknowledging the struggle behind giving it, of savoring the holiness of the moment. “With pleasure.” I hear echoes of mystery and begin to glimpse truth: “It pleased the LORD to crush him. . .” It pleased God to crush his Son not because his love for him was so weak, but because his love for us was so strong. Not because he delighted to hurt him, but because he delighted to gain us.
The words come near the beginning of Isaiah’s servant songs, those four prophetic passages which speak specially of the Messiah offering himself in service to God and to us (42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9 and 52:13-53:12).
“I am Yahweh. I have called you in righteousness. I have taken you by the hand and watched over you.” (Is 42:6)
In righteousness – right-relationship – God called Jesus to his task, held him by the hand, and watched over him in it.
And in right-relatedness, Jesus gave himself too – to his Father and to us – with joy (Heb 12:2; Eph 5:2).
The Father’s perfect love for his Son and the Son’s perfect love for his Father flowed over into a union of perfect love for us, a love mutually willing to bear the anguish of giving and being given, the torture of separation, to gain the joy of forever union, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and us, brought right into the perfect oneness of love. For this, the Father chooses not to rescue his beloved Son as he willingly lays his mangled back against the rough crossbeam and lets himself be lifted up, struggles to lift his weight against the stake through his feet to reach for one more breath. One more breath to cry out, “Father, forgive them.” A little more strength to swallow the last bitter sip of our guilt and shame. Enough air to cry pain into the silent (but not unfeeling) darkness, “My God! Why have you abandoned me?”
I trace the word hafetz through Isaiah, watch the pleasure of the Father and the Son unfold.
“Yahweh was pleased, for the sake of his right-relatedness, to magnify his law and make it glorious.” (Isaiah 42:21)
“Law is the revelation of God’s will” (TWOT), and the whole Bible makes one thing clear: God’s will is right-relationship between us and Him and each other.
There was a problem.
“But this is a people robbed and plundered,
All of them are trapped in holes and hidden in prisons;
They have become a prey with no one to rescue,
A spoil with no one to say, ‘Restore!’” (42:22)
“My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. . .
what I have said, that will I bring about;
what I have planned, I will do. . .
I am bringing my righteousness near. . .
And my salvation will not be delayed.” (46:11-13)
“Yet it was Yahweh’s pleasure to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though Yahweh makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the pleasure of Yahweh will prosper in his hand.
After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied,
By his knowledge My righteous servant will justify many. . .” (53:10-11)
The pleasure of Yahweh will prosper in his hand. The Father honors his Son, entrusting to the Son all that is most precious to the Father (John 3:35; 5:20-26; 13:3; 17:2-4, 9-10). The Son honors his Father, embracing with joy the treasure given and causing it to thrive (John 4:34; 17:4).
The inspired writer of Hebrews (in 10:5-7) hears the words of Psalm 40:6-8 as from the mouth of Jesus: “I delight to do your will, O my God.” Those nine English words are but four in Hebrew, two of which are expressions of delight: our verb hafetz (take delight in, be pleased with, desire), and the noun retzon (pleasure, delight, favor). “To do your pleasure, O my God, I delight.” So much delight is taking place in the weighty darkness of this week’s walk to the cross. Oh, blessed Trinity, teach us to see and enter this delight! We kneel and wait. . .