For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. (NLT)
What happened on the cross defies exhaustive human understanding and analysis. We believe Jesus died for us and that trusting in what he did reconciles us to God. But the mechanics of it are debated and even arouse disagreement.
One unfortunate scenario is that Jesus can be seen as copping the rage of an angry God. This God wants to punish us but Jesus steps in and takes what we had coming to us. God is the bad cop, and Jesus is the good cop.
This misunderstands what is going on. It is true God is utterly opposed to human sin and must act against it. It is true Jesus allows us to escape the eternal consequences of our sins. But we need to remember that God was in fact hanging on the cross. God was not punishing himself. God was not detached from what was happening on that Good Friday.
Perhaps we may better understand Jesus as absorbing the whole ugly weight of human evil and sin on himself, so that we are spared being crushed by it. God in Jesus accepts and absorbs all the human evil we have directed towards him. He suffers the consequences.
The cross is not ultimately about a nice Jesus shielding us from the wrath of an angry father. It is about an act of love enacted by a Father who loves us and a Son who shows us just how much he loves us.