Jesus died for our sins. He took the punishment we deserved. God the Father poured out His wrath for sin upon God the Son. Jesus was crushed for our iniquities, bruised for our transgressions. We deserve eternal separation from the infinitely holy God of the universe, but Jesus took our place.
Considering such propositions, my twelve-year-old son asked something profound. At dinner, I queried my children. “Do you have any questions about the Bible?” My son quickly said, “Yes, I do. How did Jesus take our punishment? He was only dead three days? Where did Jesus go when He died? Did He go to heaven or hell?”
Stated differently, my son was asking the following. If the punishment for sin is eternity in hell, how did Jesus, in a grave for three days, count as our punishment? How is three days punishment enough to substitute for the eternal punishment we deserve?
Wow, what a thoughtful question. I’m surprised often by my children. Brain cells fire when I think they aren’t paying attention. Synopses spark, working through philosophical questions and pondering large ideas.
My son’s question reminded me of something: too often I lecture, talk, and teach, when I also need to listen and learn. I need to know what’s going through my children’s minds, what they are asking themselves.
The talk which followed my son’s question was lively. His older siblings jumped in, also his seven-year-old sister. My wife and I offered solutions to the problem (Biblical ones, I hope) and the conversation drifted to other topics. For a few moments, we pondered something huge and important, something with eternal ramifications. Twelve isn’t too young to be asking such big questions.
In fact, I’m reminded of another twelve-year-old boy discussing important things with those older than himself. He was in His Father’s house, a long time ago, talking to the rabbis.