Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | March 22, 2008

The Cross

The Father was not punishing Jesus in our place on the cross. So what was happening when Jesus was crucified?

Click here to listen to my Good Friday sermon: Perspective on the Cross (it’s only 14 minutes.)

I was really helped in this sermon by Baxter Kruger’s post on the subject and John Stonecypher’s post over at the Dancing God.

Happy Easter!


  1. […] on WordPress, I came across this post (and sermon link – advertised as only 14 minutes) titled, The Cross. The author begins, “The Father was not punishing Jesus in our place on the cross.” In […]

  2. Thanks for the link, Lisa. We obviously disagree about how to interpret the scripture but I appreciate your reading and commenting. I believe in the Christus Victor theory of the atonement because I don’t believe there is a split in the personalities of the God-head. I don’t believe the Father is angry and demands a “pound of flesh” to forgive our sins while the Son is forgiving and merciful and willing to die for us. I believe the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all forgiving, merciful and willing to die for us. I would agree wholeheartedly with the quote from George MacDonald that you placed in your post.

    Jesus died for our sins. His death was not to appease an angry Father who demands blood. His death was to conquer sin and death and rescue us from Satan. We are saved by his blood because his blood conquers the evil that is against us.

    I deleted your first comment, where you put in the long list of scriptures because you didn’t discuss what you thought all those scriptures meant – you just listed them. It seemed to take up a lot of room without creating a dialogue.

    For any readers who would like to see the George MacDonald quote or Lisa’s list of scriptures you’ll find them in her post where she critiques my sermon, just follow the link next to her comment.

  3. Hi Jonathon,
    I only listened to the first half of your sermon. I had to turn it off after you said God was saying “whoo-hoo” when Jesus was on the cross. I think this makes a mockery of it. I don’t know what your intention was behind that. Perhaps you can elaborate for me. Thanks.

    I really appreciate the fact that you are trying to show the full scope of the Christian message—that the cross is about more than just sin, but I’m just not quite sure I understand how you are getting there.

    Thanks again for the thought provoking sermon.

  4. Hi coldfire,

    Since I believe that Jesus’ work on the cross was his triumphant victory over the sin and death that would have robbed the Father of his adopted children (humanity) I visualize the Father, Son and Spirit filled with triumphant joy when the work of the cross is finished.

    Jesus is triumphant, Satan is defeated, and I can visualize the Father filled with excitement and joy that his Son has won the battle and rescued his precious and beloved humanity.

    Perhaps I went a little too far in trying to visualize the conversation and expression within the Triune Life at that most fearful and awesome moment when the Son descended into the depth of our Hell.

    However, the messianic Psalm 118 does say “Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”

    When I said “whoo-hoo!” I was trying to put the shout of joy and victory into the modern vernacular.

    Thanks for checking out my blog and commenting in such a kind way!

  5. For those of you who may be interested, Lisa of Longbourn posted three more comments here earlier with a very lengthy and detailed explanation of how she understands the scriptures with regard to the atonement.

    I deleted them because I felt they were so long and detailed that they were really more of an essay on her thoughts than a comment on mine.

    If you would like to read Lisa’s further explanation of her understanding of the atonement, click on the link next to her comment above and then scroll down to the comments section of that blog post. There you’ll find her further thoughts on the subject.

  6. Hey Jonathan!

    I just read your post and listened to your message! I think it is great and lines up well with what Jesus has revealed about His Relationship with the Father in the Spirit from before the foundation of the world.

    I can understand people’s difficulties with seeing the Father put up a cheer of victory at the Son’s death because of the perspectives we have been handed on, BUT what is our alternative?!

    Can one honestly picture the Father, Son and Spirit “biting fingernails” in this cross event, as it were? Can we picture a Father Who is only passionate in anger and not passionate in triumphant joy in His own self-sacrifice and service for the Humanity He created, sustains and loves? He is putting our death to death, after all! I can imagine tears and a smiling shout at the same time. I literally did this when my dad died because it was sad and happy at the same time (due to the victory he has over death in Jesus!!!)

    I was just reading in the book of John today where Jesus repeatedly says He is in His Father and His Father is in Him, and yet we can somehow picture His Father forsaking Jesus in His gretaest hour of need. Do we actually picture the Father not being in Him?!!! “IN” is a STRONGER word than “WITH”!!

    If the Father actually did forsake His Son, we have a God on our hands Who cannot be trusted, and Who is not ONE as he says, but a God Who is split and is a liar!! Yikes!!! If God didn’t reach us in our darkest place, AS GOD, then he didn’t really reach US with His Godness – it was all pretend!! We have much rethinking and repenting to do here, in the Light of the Trinity!!

    I think you are helping people to be properly challenged in their view about the basic nature of the Triune God and His Good Gospel, and holding firmly to the theology stated in the Nicene Creed of God’s Oneness as Father, Son and Spirit. No split personality there! No “down in the dumps”, “hope we’re gonna win but not quite sure” mentality in that relationship!

    Dr. Kruger’s post was very helpful, and/or very challenging, to the horrible and wretched view and splitting up of the personality of Triune God we have accomplished in our mythology and darkness!!

    Continue to remain with Jesus outside the camp and bear the scorn he bore until more and more of our brothers and sisters can see! Hebrews 13:12-13! In the grace of Jesus I’m with you!

  7. Perhaps what I am looking for is you exegesis on the passage, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” However, I think this is getting away from the point of the blog. If you could, I would appreciate a few thoughts on what you think the above mentioned verse means by way of e-mail at I would just really like to know how you interpret the passage. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

  8. Hi coldfire,
    I think you are exactly right in following this line of thinking towards Jesus’ statement about being forsaken, it definitely relates.

    I’m going to email you a paper I wrote on the subject, you can find it here on the blog on the page labeled “Essays” it is called “Was Jesus Forsaken on the Cross?”

    I also highly recommend the book “Jesus and the Undoing of Adam” by Baxter Kruger where he deals with this question and the atonement in general. You also might want to check out Baxter’s blog post on the subject that I linked to in this post:

    Finally, I stumbled across a blog called where another author deals with this subject in exactly the same way I have felt led to do so.

  9. Jonathan,

    As I listened to your sermon I thought of one thing that might be helpful to clarify as you challenge more people to consider what you are saying about the Trinity and seek to take it more seriously.

    You made a statement that said something like, “God did not have some eternal plan to save sinners…” I believe that you are RIGHT in stating and reinforcing our Adoption in Christ as Triune God’s plan for humanity before the foundation of the world.

    I thought it might also be good to go on afterwards to say something like “Because the plan IS adoption, and because of our being made in Triune God’s image WITH DISTINCTION (meaning we have the ability to imagine lies and oppose our inclusion), the Father, Son and Spirit had a definite plan on the books, in eternity, to die in our place, undo our sin, and save us, fulfilling our adoption in Jesus despite the sin.”

    In other words, because the primary plan in eternity was our adoption, there was also a definite plan in eternity of salvation to support that plan of Adoption so that our adoption would not fail to be what Triune God wanted it to be, even if we messed things up in our distinction!!

    Peace, Love and Blessings!

  10. Thanks, Tim, you are right! I mangled that one in my zeal to try to help myself and others focus on the fact that adoption is the plan.

    That plan of adoption includes as an integral part of it the plan of the Father to deal with our sin, so the way I said it wasn’t really correct.

    There was an eternal plan to save sinners, it was included in and integral to the Father’s main purpose and plan: to adopt us and not allow anything, including sin, to snatch us out of his life.

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