I’ve been reading in the book of Hosea this Easter season, and I was reflecting upon the vivid description of God’s love for His children in chapter 11. One of the most striking things about this chapter to me is verse 9. Here, God says that He is “God and not a man” and is “the Holy One in your midst.” And yet, the same verse describes how God will not pour out His wrath on His people—“I will not execute My burning anger.

On the surface, this doesn’t make sense. How can God be perfectly holy and, at the same time, not execute His judgment on sin? How can He be and do both at the same time? The answer is Jesus.

Paul states in Rom. 3:26, “So that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” In Jesus, God satisfied His demands for righteousness—something we could not do in our sinful state. To be God and to be holy, He must punish our sin. He cannot “look the other way.” For us to be saved, we cannot absorb that punishment. So, Jesus absorbed God’s punishment on our behalf. He is the Just. He is the perfect sacrifice. And He is the Justifier because His death provides for our salvation, which He did for us out of His great love.

The old British pastor G. Campbell Morgan commented on this verse in Hosea 11. He stated, “In Jesus I see how righteousness and peace meet together, and God can be just and the justifier. Through Jesus, the claims of justice which are against my soul are all met… Through Christ, He has made the way by which sinning souls can be conformed to His image, His likeness, His will. The Gospel is gleaming in Hosea. It is shining in full radiance in Christ.”

Part of a father’s love is that he makes sacrifices, so his children can thrive and even live. Sometimes he makes the ultimate sacrifice.

In 2012, George Tyson and his disabled son, Garry, were on a Sunday afternoon walk in the countryside of England. Someone driving a sports car too fast and out of control came barreling at them. Tyson pushed Garry out of the way to save his son’s life but was hit and killed by the car.

In 2015, Justin McCary was walking along a train track on a bridge in Chattanooga, Tenn. looking for rocks with his 10-year-old daughter and niece. They heard the train coming and moved to safety, but Justin looked back to see that his daughter’s foot was trapped in the tracks. He rushed to her, freed her foot, and just before the train hit, threw his daughter to the creek bed below the bridge, saving her life. Justin was killed instantly.

What these fathers did for their children reminds me of the great sacrifice our heavenly Father made for His children. Jesus, the just and justifier, gave His life so that He could fulfill His promise and redeem us. May the thought of God’s unconditional, sacrificial love for us who are so undeserving be our motivation—not to live in rebellion against Him, but to live for Him in faithful obedience.