It Was the Will of the Father to Crush Him: The Day of Atonement and the Cross of Christ
Provost and Research Professor of Theology at Grace Bible Theological Seminary
Abstract: The cross of Christ is a scandal, a mystery, and for Christians, an object of wonder. Even today, after millennia of reflection upon the crucifixion, theologians and pastors still probe the atonement, debating and discussing numerous elements of the cross-work of Christ: how wrath is borne, whether sin is forgiven, and what precisely transpires when the Son cries out that he is “forsaken” of the Father. This article will argue not that the crucifixion involved the “breaking” of the Trinity, for this is metaphysically and ontologically impossible, nor that the Father “hated” the Son at Calvary. This article contends amidst a range of views that there is nonetheless real interruption of communion between the Father and Son during his agonizing cross-work. Because the Father “crushes” the Son under the weight of his wrath against sin, we know divine rescue and forgiveness, learning from the atonement of Christ the distinctive beauty of biblical love, a love foreshadowed in the Day of Atonement in older times. This article is thus an exercise in threefold theological construction: it is a work of exegetical theology unto biblical theology unto the overarching synthetic conclusions of systematic theology.
Key Words: atonement, wrath, cross of Christ, forsaken, justice of God, holiness, righteousness, Day of Atonement