Love's Most Amazing Story ... Part I
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."1
Karl Barth, famous though controversial, contemporary Swiss theologian, was a great thinker, a prolific writer, and a professor at several European universities. On one occasion he was confronted by a reporter who wanted a brief summary of his twelve thick volumes on church dogmatics. Barth could have given an impressive intellectual reply, but didn't. Quoting from the popular child's hymn, he simply said, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so."
And there is no greater proof of this love than when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave his life for us.
As Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." His own love, however, went much further than this. He laid down his life for his enemies as well as his friends.
Imagine the torturous agony Christ must have endured when nailed to the cross. This was the price he paid to die for our sins. Added to his physical suffering was his sense of utter rejection by being forsaken, not only by his few remaining friends, but also by God. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus cried out in utter despair from the cross.2
But so great was his love even for those who caused his excruciating pain—those who nailed him to the cross, thrust a spear into his side, mocked him, spat in his face—that in the midst of this inhuman torture he prayed, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."3
Referring to this prayer, Thomas Carlyle said, "The sublimest words that ever fell from human lips."
Human love is often conditional. If we are what others want us to be, and do what they want us to do, we are loved. If not, we are often rejected. Fortunately, God's love is never conditional. It is never based on who we are or what we do or have done—good or bad. God loves us simply because we are his creation.
To be continued…
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, how can I ever thank you enough for loving me even though I am a sinner? Help me to understand the depths of your love for me and, as a result, surrender and dedicate my life to live for you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen. "
1. John 15:13 (NIV).
2. Mark 15:34.
3. Luke 23:34.