If God is perfect, and needs nothing from us, then why would He demand a human sacrifice to pay for human sins? Isn’t the very definition of forgiveness to not ask for a payment?
If the sacrifice of Jesus was merely a human sacrifice, it wouldn’t have meant much. While it was His human nature that suffered death, He redeemed us as God. We really have to think outside of the box here—the human box. We are inclined to think eating a piece of fruit at not all that bad. But the sin of Adam was a sin against an infinitely good God. God is not just a bigger version of us. So the sin was a great offense. Nevertheless, Jesus could have simply willed our redemption and all would have been fine. He is God, after all.
While it was the Father’s will that Jesus suffer and die for us, Jesus concurred with Him in this “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” He chose to suffer and die in order to show us something of what His infinite love means. Since we have no experience of anything infinite in our lives, the word ‘infinite’ is just an abstraction. But the death of God on a cross is no abstraction. Good Friday demonstrates for us something of how unfathomable His love is. That God would choose to undergo such an experience on our behalf shows us how beyond the range of our feeble intellects His love actually is. Forgiveness IS to not ask for payment. We could never pay Him for such love.
Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.