Cade Brenchley serves as a sergeant with the Utah Highway Patrol. He has delivered twins on the side of the interstate and helped save a victim from a burning car. He serves as a soccer coach in the community, where the Utah DPS says he is “well respected and known.”
Now he’s known around the world.
Last Sunday, Sgt. Brenchley was responding to multiple car accidents in northern Utah’s Sardine Canyon. He was wearing a yellow safety vest and walking toward what appears to be a disabled car when a dark sedan came skidding by. It threw him into the air so violently that he struck the disabled car in front of him before landing on the snow-covered ground.
The video of the accident has been played and replayed on television and across the internet. The sedan continued skidding forward before finally coming to a stop facing backward. Several bystanders rushed to Sgt. Brenchley’s aid. He suffered broken ribs and a broken scapula but is expected to make a full recovery.
Now to the part of the story that most fascinates me: Sgt. Brenchley told reporters that the woman who struck him “is not to be vilified.” She was “in hysterics” when she approached him lying on the road, he said. “She did make a mistake, and I think she’s learned from it.”
The woman and some of the passengers in the car brought flowers when they visited him in the hospital. “I hold no ill will toward her,” he said. “And if anybody should be upset, it should be me or my family. But we’re not.”
“Against you, you only, have I sinned”
If anybody should be upset with you as a sinner, it should be the holy God of the universe.
All sin is ultimately against him. In admitting his adultery with Bathsheba, David prayed: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment” (Psalm 51:4).
The righteous King of all creation has every right to condemn each of us to an eternity separated from him in hell. Instead, he seeks to restore each of us to himself: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Our culture values us by what we do, but God values us by what Jesus has done. Our society offers us contractual relationships—work to get paid, impress people to be popular. Our Father offers us a covenantal relationship—”By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Let me prove it to you.
“Not as I will, but as you will”
Today is Maundy Thursday. This is the night Jesus chose in the Garden of Gethsemane to die on our cross in our place, paying the debt for our sins to purchase our salvation.
Our attention is rightly focused today on the sacrificial love of our Savior. We think about the physical agony, emotional torment, and spiritual pain he chose for us. We remember that he had every opportunity to turn back, to flee to Galilee and escape his enemies. He deserves our deepest gratitude and passionate worship for all he chose this day to do.
But another member of the Trinity deserves the same gratitude and worship on this somber day as well.
Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Then he prayed a second time, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done” (v. 42). Then “he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again” (v. 44).
The fact that Jesus chose Calvary for us is proof that his atoning death was, in fact, his Father’s will. When he pled with his Father to avoid the cross, his Father chose to refuse. He chose to send his Son to die. He chose all that his Son would soon endure.
“For God so loved the world . . .”
The cross proves the love of both the Father and the Son for us: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The most famous verse in Scripture begins, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son . . .” (John 3:16).
Imagine a father choosing to send his child to be horribly tortured and killed in the place of criminals who deserved to die. As a father of two and grandfather of three, I cannot begin to comprehend such a decision. But those for whom I sent my child to die should never again doubt my love for them, should they?
One other question: How did Matthew know that Jesus prayed these words? He was sitting at a distance from Jesus (Matthew 26:36); the three disciples who were closer to Jesus were all asleep (v. 40).
Obviously, the Holy Spirit could have inspired Matthew to know and record Jesus’ excruciating prayers. But could it be that Jesus reported these words to the gospel writer? Could it be that Jesus wanted us to know the incomprehensible love of our Father for us?
God’s nature does not change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), which means that your Father loves you just as much today as when he sent his Son to the cross in your place. He would do it all over again, just for you.
Will you choose to love yourself—and your neighbor—as unconditionally as your Father loves you?