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.
For a few blog entries, and a few weeks actually, I have been thinking about the forgiveness and love of God. It’s such a basic thing to grasp about Him, really, and yet so many do not. Even for a time, I didn’t. How could he love me? I wasn’t good enough.
This is the most quoted verse of Scripture, and the most discussed. I consider myself smart, but I couldn’t understand it for a time. How is that?
One thing I’ve been thinking about and have spoken about recently is the death of Christ. I’ve not seen the Passion, but I’ve read about what it must have been like to be nailed by spikes to a giant wooden cross, given vinegar, have your side pierced by a sword, to wear a crown of thorns, and then be humiliated by hanging mostly naked on that cross above everyone so all can see as you die. I cannot imagine anything more painful and humiliating. Christ knew He was going to experience this. Even He asked God that, if possible, that He not have to endure that. On the cross, it was so much He cried out my God why have You forsaken Me? And yet the one and only Son of God willingly carried that cross to His death, allowed Himself to be nailed to it, and hung there for all the world to see.
What would make someone, anyone, even the Son of the Living God, willingly do that? He could have just said no. He could have called on angels to come and pull him down. He could have changed his mind.
What would make Jesus do this willingly?
The love of God. Of Jesus.
After all, He and His Father are One.
Think about this. Have you ever loved someone so much that you would die for them? I can think of a few people I have said that for and wanted to mean it. But would I really? Death is such a permanent state. It’s a finality of this life. You don’t get any more choices in this world once it happens. It is done at that point. Are you willing to give up everything forever for someone? As I said, I have said that for a few, but if the moment came, I wonder that even with the same desire as Jesus to not go through it, would I still? Especially given how it was done?
And I’m willing to bet that you, like I, would do that for people who loved us as well. Would we be willing to do that for someone who despises us? Was our enemy? Was against us? And especially if they were the ones who told the judge to put us in place of another person who was appointed to die?
That’s what Jesus did.
I was a sinner. In fact, my sin, according to many Christian, church-going folk, was an abomination. I even thought so of myself. But yet there was Jesus, up on that cross for me.
And for you.
I don’t mean to sound preachy. I am just in awe of the Love of Christ. Most of my life I desired to be loved. In fact, it’s one of my great life’s desires. And I found it.
The fact that He was willing, not forced, to die for me in such a gruesome and painful manner, is just unfathomable. Almost unbelievable if I didn’t feel and know that love that Jesus has for me. Awesome isn’t even a complete enough word to describe what that is. It really is the greatest and most complete love that I don’t know if I could ever reciprocate. And Jesus knew that and still loved me that much.
Of course John 3:16 doesn’t say “for God so loved Harley.” It says “for God so loved the WORLD.” Meaning, all of us. All the people. Even the people who make me mad, cuss me, yell at me, and say ugly things. People did, and still do, do those things to Jesus, and He still climbed on that cross. So if He can do that, I should be able to love those people, too. Jesus loves them, and I love Him. If I love Him, I will do as he says and love them too. That’s how we can show our love for Jesus.
And that is forgiveness as well. Loving them even if they don’t apologize, repent, or stop doing those things to me. Loving them in spite of all that.
I love you, if you are reading this (and I love those that aren’t).