"I love you so much, I'm sending someone else" ??

Maybe you've been puzzled by questions like, "If God loved the world so much, why didn't God go to the cross? Why was God's Son drafted to endure all the pain and humiliation?"

One of my favorite theologians, N.T. Wright, expresses the answer so clearly. "The death of God's son can only reveal God's love if the son is the personal expression of God himself. It will hardly do to say, 'I love you so much that I'm going to send someone else.' " (Check out Romans 5:6-10.)

God did not send someone else. Jesus is the embodiment of the Father's love. Jesus' death is God's self-sacrifice.

If I offer my son or daughter to die in order to save your life, you would have reason to think me a coward for not offering my own life instead. But Jesus was not that kind of son. Jesus was the appearance of Israel's God Yahweh in person to save us when we could not save ourselves.

When you think of it like that, "For God so loved the world..." makes a lot more sense.


My most difficult prayer

I came across an article recently in which readers shared the most difficult prayer they've ever prayed. One wife wrote and said that though she's been able to forgive her husband, her most difficult prayer is asking God for the grace to forgive the "other woman," someone who had pretended to be her friend. She hasn't found the grace yet, but she's asking for it.

Others wrote of praying for God's will instead of clinging to their own dreams, praying to be content as a single person, praying that God will use a child's health issue for good, asking God to allow difficult times to draw a rebellious teenager back to faith.

I'm considering sharing a couple of these stories in Sunday's sermon, but I also want to toss it out to you. What has been your most difficult prayer to pray?

This Sunday we'll be listening to Jesus' most difficult prayer, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup [of suffering] be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39).

If you comment and share with us, your most difficult prayer, I will assume permission to share it in Sunday's sermon, though without your name. I may not get any takers on this one; that's okay. But if you have one to share, please accept my sincere appreciation.