Sep 2, 2020, 1:36 PM
“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down His life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
In most cultures, love is relegated to the abstract and is hardly fully expressed in genuine terms. Nevertheless, the ideal definition of love lies in concrete corresponding action. Love demands action. It is futile bandying the word around without matching it with action. Elder apostle John warned: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
When God created the world, He did so out of His own pleasure. At each stage of the creation, He paused to appreciate His handiwork and declared that it was good. Then He put man in the Garden to take care of it. As we become knowledgeable in Scripture, we realise that the Creation was a result of teamwork comprising God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit---each playing a vital role.
Creation happened each time God spoke these words: “Let there be .... and there was.” That Word [the actual words that He pronounced] is later revealed in the New Testament as Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1) Creation was borne out of great pleasure and love, not out of any obligation.
Apostle Paul writes in the epistle to the Colossians that God “... has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves ...” (Colossians 1:13) God sent His Son into the world to show humanity how to live and pay for our sins on the Cross of Calvary.
Our ancestors, Adam and Eve, disobeyed and God assigned His Son the task to fix the ensuing problem. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) As Jesus takes up His assignment at His baptism in the River Jordan, the Father openly endorses the move; “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17).
God manifests His love for His creation by sending his Son into the world to save the world from sin. God is too holy and pure to come down from heaven, so He sent His Son, Jesus. “For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth: visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16)
The underlining factor established here is that God, who is a God of love, loves His Son and equally loves humanity. He demonstrated His love for humanity by sending His only Son Jesus to pay the price of sin by His death on the cross. It is important to recall what God told Adam in the Garden. “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) “For the wages of sin is death ...” (Romans 6:23)
In fulfilling His mission on earth, Jesus had every human being in mind. “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time has come for him to leave this world and go to the father. Having loved His own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of His love.” (John 13:1)
Apostle Paul reassures us with these words; “Who can separate me from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... No! in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35, 37) God’s love for humanity surpasses our superficial and self-centred love. God declared: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3) Love is God’s nature. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16)
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16)
Unlike humans, His love “... keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5b) Therefore “... Christ’s love compels us,” to reciprocate His love by loving others as ourselves.
The Bible teaches that “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
Our Lord Jesus told the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) to His audience to illustrate the extent of God’s love. In the parable the youngest son prematurely demanded his inheritance from his father, then left to explore the world. His experience turned sour as he squandered all the money in riotous living. He became bankrupt and ended up tending pigs in order to have something to eat. In this sad state, the thought came to him to return to his father’s house and be reduced to a servant.
But the father would have nothing of the kind. Instead, he reinstated him by putting the best clothes on him, killing the fattest calf, and throwing a party on his behalf. He did not even listen to his son’s prepared forgiveness speech. Unfortunately, only one individual was unhappy; and that was the elder brother who felt he was unfairly treated.
In this parable, our Lord Jesus was alluding to His Father’s love which embraces everyone and is accessible to all. Jesus Himself stated that none of His sheep would be lost to Satan. He invites all those who are weary and burdened to come to Him and find happiness. While He trod this earth, he went about doing good, healing the sick and releasing those whom the devil had oppressed. All this was prompted by love.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassion never fail. They are new every morning; GREAT IS YOUR FAITHFULNESS.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)