Love. That one word is used in many different ways and describes a broad range of emotions. It is the stated motivation behind many actions, both good and bad. Love can selflessly bless or be misused to selfishly control and manipulate another. Love is often used as the excuse or justification for our actions. Love is celebrated, yet it can seem fleeting and difficult to hold on to. Some say that love can be fallen into and back out of while others demonstrate love’s lifelong commitment. Love can be said without feeling and felt without expression. But, love is best when it is both felt and expressed.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16–17, NASB95) In this familiar verse, we see love felt and love expressed. We are told that God loved the world. The world being all of humanity through all time. God recognized our helpless and rebellious condition and loved us anyway. Matthew wrote of Jesus, “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) God, however, did not just feel love, did not only feel compassion, but He expressed love through Jesus Christ. Let’s consider God’s expression of love through four events.
The story of Christmas is love’s gift. A gift is only a gift if it is freely given without the expectation of something in return. God’s gift to us was to send his only Son to us in the form of a human baby. It is impossible to describe the difference between Christ’s eternal existence with God the Father and his human experience as a baby. God in His infinity became finite, limited, and weak. Jesus became one of us because of His love for us.
The story of Good Friday is love’s sacrifice. Jesus took the penalty for our sins on himself. There is a terrible pain when a parent loses a child. The whole order of the universe seems to be upset. Even though we might have felt or observed the pain of losing a child, we cannot imagine God the Father’s pain at the death of His only son. Those who from eternity past had never been apart and dwelt in perfect love were now separated because of love’s sacrifice for a broken and rebellious creation, for you and I. God the father turned away when the punishment that we deserved was poured out on Jesus. At that moment, Jesus’ cried out from the cross – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” His love for us cost Him everything.
The story of Easter is love’s hope. Christ’s resurrection conquered the last enemy; death. Humanity is no longer doomed to an eternity separated from God and each other. (Contrary to popular belief there is no party in hell, only pain, loneliness, and regret.) Because of Christ’s resurrection, life does not need to be a cascade of futility or death result in eternal separation. Through Jesus Christ, each of us can receive God’s love, receive His promise of eternal life, and receive meaning and purpose during our time on earth.
Your story can be love’s triumph. Love is not complete until it is received. God has given far more love than you can imagine. But you must recognize your need to be loved. Recognize the brokenness and rebellion that has separated you from God. By choosing to receive Christ you are accepting His love for you. You see, you cannot truly love until you have been truly loved. While you may have experienced love, the only true and perfect love is that which is given to you by God through Jesus Christ, receive His love today.
This article is part of a Bible Study on Love. The rest of the study can be downloaded below.