Classes on ethical theory are notorious for presenting students with scenarios calling for difficult decisions. Often these scenarios have no good solutions. No matter what a person might choose to do, someone will die. The especially difficult scenarios pit the choice of saving a family member, such as a son or daughter, at the expense of many others dying, or saving many people at the expense of your own child dying.
For example, let’s say a boat capsizes, and your son and his two friends are thrown into the water—your son is in the water to your left, and his friends are to your right. None of them can swim. You have only enough time to swim in one direction. Which way do you swim? Whom do you attempt to rescue?
While we may pray never to face such a situation, we should realize that God the Father did. He chose to give up his Son to save us. More incredibly, it pleased the Father to be able to do so.
Isaiah 53:10, part of a prophetic passage about Jesus, says: “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.”
When we come to the Lord’s table, we like to say the cup represents Jesus’ blood that was poured out for our sins. But it wasn’t poured. It was squeezed out—like water from a wet rag— by the will of the Father.
We like to say the bread represents Christ’s body that was broken. Actually, not a bone of his body was broken, but it was crushed—crushed against the cross and held there by the hand of his Father.
For what purpose was the Son crushed? In Isaiah 53:5, the prophet explains, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities.”
There is, of course, at least one significant difference between the dilemmas posed in an ethics class and the real event of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus knew what was about to happen to him. He did not go to the cross unwittingly, but willingly. “For the joy set before him [he] endured the cross, scorning its shame” (Hebrews 12:2).
At the Lord’s table we remember the sacrifice of the Son, and that only through his death and resurrection do we have forgiveness of sins. And we thank God for choosing our salvation, even though it meant the sacrifice of his own Son.
Trevor Tolley is a high school teacher at Tree of Life Christian Schools in Columbus, Ohio, and serves as an elder at Worthington (Ohio) Christian Church.