He risked a great deal coming to the earth as a human, Jesus. One-third of the Godhead was at risk. Jesus, God the Son, was “tempted in all points like we are.” He was tempted to quit.
He could have avoided execution. He could have walked away. Even at the point of death he could have called angels to rescue him, or revive him.
Jesus knew who he was. He had always existed. He knew about heaven, about himself and his mission. He had the authority and the ability to go through with it, or not.
The greatest punishment wasn’t physical, emotional or mental. How long is a few hours compared to millions of years? Jesus had seen other men crucified; the Romans were known for it and they were good at it.
No, the split of the Godhead was his greatest test. That critical, essential division away from the Father, becoming guilty, black with sin, an elementally flawed human – that was the greatest punishment possible – and the moment of God’s greatest risk. Jesus could say no.
Oh, surely God knew how it would all turn out in the end. It was all pre-planned, pre-determined, I’ve heard people say, so there really wasn’t any question about the outcome, was there?
If that was true, Jesus faced no real temptation. But he did. And the risk was very real.
God the Father was putting a great deal at risk, he himself, personally. Had Jesus chosen to abandon his mission, his allegiance would be changed.
If he chose to change his mind, who would he then become? Another rebel? Would he draw followers away from Father God, or followers away from Satan?
Or would he become a follower of Satan himself? The deceiver’s abilities were no doubt working in full force, right up to the end. “Save yourself. I’ll give you the earth and all its kingdoms…”
Had Jesus failed, what would that mean for the survival of creation? Spiritual warfare has always been for control of God’s creation, after all. Without a permanent solution for sin, human beings couldn’t be inhabited by God the Holy Spirit.
They couldn’t be enabled to enjoy the Father’s fellowship, to learn, invent, explore the vast reaches of time and space.
The warfare raging between God and Satan would become more vicious and widespread, with no guaranteed survival of the creation that humanity is part of.
As a human being Jesus was excruciatingly, painfully tempted to abandon his mission. He couldn’t have completed it in any other form, but God risked so much in sending him on it!
That fact, more than anything else I’ve ever contemplated, graphically demonstrates God the Father’s love towards his children; towards me.