The Gift of Love

It’s Valentines Day: a day where we often choose to celebrate the gift of love. We focus on earthly loves; husband, children, brothers and sisters, parents, etc. and we find some way to express our love and gratitude to them. I personally love celebrating Valentines Day; always have! And yet, while I am extremely thankful for the many “loves” God has placed in my life I wonder how often I forget to celebrate the love of Jesus Christ that was poured out on Calvary.

God is a Holy God. He cannot be in the presence of a single sin. And sadly, the Bible says in Romans 3:10 that “there is none righteous, no not one!” which put me in a pretty bad state. I had sinned and was separated from the Holy God who alone could satisfy my longing heart. This was a problem! I had been created to “belong” and yet had been removed from the very One who was to give me the love and belonging I was ultimately created for. I needed Someone to help bring me back to God; a Mediator. So God sent Jesus. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” – Romans 5:6-9

The Bible also says in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death,” and so Jesus took that payment upon Himself, in my stead.

Lately, I’ve been hit with the reality of my Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection from so many different angles. His love, His human grief and compassion, His suffering; the emotions, the sacrifice, the redemption. As I’ve thought on these things, I’ve felt overwhelmed. Why did He do it? How could He do it? What drove Him? And where would we be without Him?

Jesus was every bit as human as you and I, and therefore He felt the pain of the cross through every agonizing moment. Yet, when He was hanging there on the cross, He doesn’t speak of the physical pain. He doesn’t cry out at the nails holding Him in place, at the spear thrust in His side, at the thorns shoved into His head, or even at the jeers that were thrown His way as the people mocked Him for who He truly was. No, at none of these things does Jesus speak out. Instead, to the very end His concern was for those He had come to save; for the thieves hanging by his side, for the people whose bloodthirsty cries had unjustly placed Him there. It was for these He prayed “Father, forgive them.” It was for you. It was for me.

I’ve thought on Jesus’ emotions as He cried “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” I think this is where the deepest hurt must have been. As a Son, who had always done everything with an eagerness to please His Father, to make Him proud, He was now being rejected and thrown out so that a stranger could be brought into the Home. I think about the times when my fellowship with God is broken because of some sin in my life and of how miserable I am; how empty I feel. Yet, I know that’s it my own fault that there is separation and that as soon as I come back to Him, my Father will always be waiting, with wide open arms. But Jesus, who had always experienced unbroken fellowship with His Father, was now put at enmity with God as He took on our sin. The Father had turned His back on Him. What emptiness our Savior must have felt. What complete devastation.

Oh to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

HOW COULD HE NOT HATE THEM?

He was dying for the very ones who were nailing Him to that cross and yet, even as He suffered for them, their ignorance and sin blinded their eyes and they laughed in His face.

HOW COULD HE NOT HATE ME?

As He hung there, He saw my face. He knew I would be born. He knew I would sin. He knew I would turn from Him. How true of me are the words to the following song… “I my Master have denied. I afresh have crucified. And profaned His hallowed name, put Him to an open shame. I have long withstood His grace, long provoked Him to His face, would not hearken to His calls, grieved Him by a thousand falls.” (“Depth of Mercy” by Charles Wesley)

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face
Bearing the awesome weight of sin;
Every bitter thought,
Every evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

This, the power of the cross:
Christ became sin for us,
Took the blame, bore the wrath:
We stand forgiven at the cross.

THE LOVE-

Though my mind can never, ever comprehend what took place that day, I know that through all the suffering, through all the sorrow, and through all the separation, Jesus was displaying the love of God; for though fully human, He was still fully God. It was for ME He died! If I had been the only person to ever be born on this planet, He would still have come and died for me. The death was necessary to restore the relationship and that just shows how much He loves me! He completed the work I could not do, and when He cried “It is finished”, my debt was paid in full.

Now the daylight flees,
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
‘Finished!’ the victory cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death,
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

“Having loved His own which were in the world. He loved them unto the end.”- John 13:2b.

It was love that drove Him—A love for for His Father…A love for us.—How can we not respond in worship?

This, the power of the cross:
Son of God, slain for us.
What a LOVE! What a COST!
We stand FORGIVEN at the cross.

*Words in red are taken from Keith Getty’s song “The Power of the Cross.”

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