He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? (Romans 8:31–32 NRSV)
As we look at the self-emptying and self-giving God, Father, Son and Spirit, in this reflection we will focus on the kenosis of the Father.
From the very creation of humankind the Father gives of himself for the sake of humanity: ‘Then God said,
“Let us make humankind in our image…let them have dominion over the fish…the birds…the cattle…the wild animals …and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ (Genesis 1:26)
With the creation of a world which is outside God, God’s self-humiliation begins.
The Creator had to concede to his creation the space and time in which it can exist. He must allow it freedom and keep it free. For God creation means self-limitation, the withdrawal of himself, that is to say self-humiliation.
In other words in order to create free human beings God had to give up some of his freedom to rule. He gave up some of his dominion of the earth to human beings who are allowed to rule over the creation and name the animals.
God’s self-giving love in creation is also seen in the way he gives humanity freedom; freedom to choose to obey or to reject him. He doesn’t just control humans, he allows for the possibility of rejection by them.
In giving human beings freedom, God allows himself to experience suffering. He suffers the rejection of his creation but he also feels the pain that his creation feels when it suffers the consequences of disobeying him.
We also see the self-giving of the Father in our redemption.
Not only does the Father give of himself by creating us and allowing us freedom in creation, he also gives of himself in order to redeem us from the disobedience that has arisen from our freedom.
In the giving of his Son for our sake, God was giving of himself:
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)
The Son wasn’t the only one to give of himself at the cross, the Father gives of himself by giving his only beloved Son for the sins of humankind.
The grief that the father felt is represented by the darkness that came over the land when Jesus was on the cross (Amos 8:9-10).
The Father suffers the death of the Son. But just as the father in the parable who runs to the prodigal son (Luke 15:20), the Father willingly suffers if it means he can be reunited with his prodigals who in their freedom rejected him.
That means in the kenosis of the Father we are embraced, given the trappings of sonship, and invited to the party (vv.20-24).
Father, thank you for loving us with self-emptying, suffering love.
Have a good week rejoicing at the party.