Without Jesus, God does not understand suffering, sorrow, or death. That is one side of the coin. The other is that God, without Jesus, does not understand joy or relief or friendship.
We tend to think of the work of Jesus only in terms of the accomplishment of something – Redemption? Atonement? Reconciliation? Salvation? But these are just words. – on earth. But his accomplishment was rather to incorporate earth into heaven, to enlarge and deepen heaven, to meld the eternal and the non-eternal into something new.
The God-man didn’t endure suffering and thereby remove it from us. He incorporated suffering into divinity, and thereby gave it eternal substance, gave it eternal importance. And so also of death and disappointment and all that side of the human coin; but we must also add the other side, the side of laughter and delight and birth.
If we are careful to remember that these are also just words, we may say that Christ sanctified life, and mean that he made it saintly, made it heavenly. He gave and gives life meaning.
But we must not forget that, in so doing, he made heaven earthly and accessible. That’s why we can pray. That’s why we can endure God’s presence.
God’s accomplishment, in Christ, was self-sacrificial, the way a marriage is sacrificial of independence. And in the same sense, it was and remains exploratory and daring and unpredictable.