No single biblical passage indicates that we must interpret the Cross in legalistic terms as if God needed to be appeased or satisfied before He could fully love us. Does God really care more about His ego than desire to encourage us? Jesus exhorts us to take up the Cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). The Cross was an act of continual love rather than a one-time event.
I Timothy 2:6 says: “Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all people.” The ransom wasn’t to appease God. Some Christians hold to a legalistic view because they revere God so much, but we must not undetermined God’s unconditional love – this is the Good News! We must not make God less relational and understandable to those who don’t know God. God is more concerned with the one that don’t believe than those that already believe. God surely wanted us to know how much he loved us, not how mad He was at us. A legalistic view of the Cross suggests God was more concerned with our guilt and restoring His honor than desiring a personal relationship.
How can we truly appreciate God if we think of the Cross in terms of what Jesus did for God as opposed to what Jesus did for us? Jesus’ death being for God undermines Jesus’ pain and struggle for us. God is different than other gods. God didn’t require a sacrifice before He could love us. It is us who has to be convinced. Jesus’ death was a visible demonstration of love to convey how far God would go to have a relationship with us, not how far God would go to get sins paid for. We can be free despite our guilty feelings. We don’t have to run and hide like Adam and Eve.
Jesus desperately wanted to do whatever He could to identify with us. Jesus wanted us to avoid paths of destructions that lead to regrets. Jesus wanted to walk in our shoes to better understand how difficult it is to live selflessly in a world where one is free to love or hate others for their own gains. Jesus was willing to face undeserved suffering as we often do. Jesus wanted to identify with how hard it is to not fall into temptations present in a free world. Some may die for a good person. Jesus died for all regardless if they were evil or good. Jesus took no shortcuts to convince us of His unconditional love. That is crazy love!
Followers may object though that sacrifice is necessary so God can forgive us. God is not an animal-hating, blood-thirsty God. Some may object to innocent animal lives being sacrificed but then we must object to Jesus’ death as well. In Old Testament cultures animal sacrifices were used to convey there is a cost to selfishness, so God went with it. Sacrifice doesn’t bring back childhood innocence robbed by an adult abuser. Human or animal sacrifice was never necessary to ultimately please God. God much preferred a “broken and contrite heart” (Ps. 51: 16-17, i.e. Heb. 10:6). God didn’t have to protect His character for egotistical reasons.
God wasn’t so mad at sinners that God had to kill someone. God already knew sin had its own cost. God didn’t have to be appeased and His honor restored before God could love us. Jesus died to change our attitude toward God, not God’s attitude toward us. God was more concerned with the restoration of the relationship than the guilt of our sins. God wanted us to know He is always forgiving. God sought to prove to us His unimaginable love. God went to great means to gain moral authority and credibility to convince us His ways were truly in our best interests.