Pastor's Piece - God So Loved You
by Dr Barry Wright
God So Loved You
There is a Jewish legend that says when God was about to create man He took counsel from the angels that stood around His throne.
'Create him not', said the angel of Justice, 'for if thou dost he will commit all kinds of wickedness against his fellow men; he will be hard and cruel and dishonest and unrighteous.'
'Create him not', said the angel of Truth, 'for he will be false and deceitful to his brother-man and even to thee.'
'Create him not', said the angel of Holiness, 'he will follow that which is impure in thy sight, and dishonour Thee to thy face.'
Then stepped forward the angel of Mercy (God's best beloved) and said: Create him, our Heavenly Father, for when he sins and turns from the path of right and truth and holiness I will take him tenderly by the hand and speak loving words to him, and then lead him back to thee' (Tan, 1991: 493).
While the four Gospels in the New Testament tell us much about the love of God for sinful human beings this theme is to be found right throughout the Scriptures.
The apostle Paul, when writing the book of Romans, says in Chapter 5: 6-8 (TLB) that:
'When we were utterly helpless with no way of escape, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners who had no use for Him. Even if we were good, we really wouldn't expect anyone to die for us, though, of course, that might be barely possible. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.'
Jesus, even in His youth must have known what the cost of His love for mankind would entail. He knew he was headed for a cross.
If you had lived in the Roman Empire at that time you would have been aware of what that really meant. Those who rebelled against the Roman authorities, including criminals of all sorts, were put to death by crucifixion.
One writer tells the story of a revolt at Sepphoris, a city about four kilometers from Nazareth. It took place when Jesus was about ten years old. At the time, Sepphoris was an important military post where Herod the Great had stored vast quantities of weapons. It was to be some time after Herod's death, that a revolutionary by the name of Judas took control of the city, arming his men with the weapons taken from the Royal Palace. As the story goes, the revolt was finally crushed by the Roman soldiers who were to leave the city in ruins. Two thousand Jews were crucified that day and were left on their crosses to make sure that the people from that area understood that rebellion against Rome meant death (Thompson, 1946).
Anyone who died by crucifixion died an excruciating death. Even before He left heaven for this earth, Jesus knew that this would be the path that He would eventually tread. He knew the insults that would be heaped upon Him and all the privations He would have to endure. All this was open to Him before He left the splendour of Heaven to step down to this earth. The path from the manger to Calvary was all too clear and yet He could say in Ps 40: 7, 8, 'Lo I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart' (White, 1940: 410).
He could also see that for millions of people His sacrifice would be in vain. Many would ignore it. He would also be rejected by His own people, betrayed by one of His own disciples and deserted by all the others.
He knew that in the Garden of Gethsemane He would suffer the overwhelming dread of being separated from His Father, by a gulf so broad and deep that, in His anguish, He would sweat blood. He knew that on Calvary that same mysterious darkness of His mind would wring from His lips the well-known cry, 'My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?'
And yet He came.
What led Jesus to go through so much?
The simple answer is that God so loved you.
Love for you made Him willing to take any risk and pay any price to save you. He loves you so much that he even longed for His baptism of blood (White: 1943: 132).
Jesus… planted His cross midway between earth and heaven, and said, I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.'
What a wonderful God we serve.
Tan, P. L. (1991) Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations. Hong Kong: Nordica International Ltd
Thompson, E. T. (1946) The Sermon on the Mount and its Meaning for Today. Richmond: John Knox Press
White, E. G. (1940) Desire of Ages. Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association
White, E. G. (1943) Testimonies for the Church, Vol 5. Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association
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