In the front of my bible I have an A4 sized poster that depicts Jesus with his arms stretched across the globe, in a stance of prayer. He is wearing a crown of thorns on His head and His face is hidden from view. In the background are three crosses, with three figures nailed in excruciating positions. Two of these figures are thieves and are being punished for their sins, but in the middle is Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world. When I look at this poster, I am reminded of today’s scripture.
As a 12 year old and new to the faith, I was able to quote this scripture word perfect and had a basic understanding of what it meant. Nevertheless, I still viewed God as the angry creator of the world, myself as a worthless sinner deserving punishment, and Jesus as the ‘good guy’, who died on my behalf. It was easy for me to embrace and identify with Jesus but Father God was someone who had to be appeased and I didn’t want to get too close to Him.
It took me years to understand that it was because God’s heart was brimming over with love for me, that he sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. I guess I imagined somehow Jesus had coerced God into sending Him and God had answered, ‘well… if you must Jesus.’ Now I know that it wasn’t like that at all. I now imagine that God looked over at His Son and said, ‘It’s time to reconcile mankind to Myself’ so Jesus laid down His majesty and came to earth. Father God could not bear to live without His children so He gave His only begotten son to die so we could be reconciled.
When I was a missionary and had the opportunity to preach on this verse, I liked to insert the name of the people group I was working with at the time to hammer the point across to my listeners. For example if I was working in India, I would quote ‘For God so loved the Indians that He gave His only Son.’
Once, while I was preaching to a Western audience, I inserted every people group I could think of at the time, to make sure that they understood God’s intention for sending Jesus. People looked quite surprised when they heard me say ‘For God so loved the Indians, and the Albanians and the Chinese and Norwegians and the Mongolians and the Australians … that He gave His only Son. One man even beamed from ear to ear. I knew he got it!
On a more personal level, how about you and I inserting our names into the verse. ‘For God so loved YOU & ME that he gave His one and only Son, that BECAUSE YOU & I believe in him WE shall not perish but have eternal life’.
Prayer: Thank you Father God that You loved ME so much that You sent Jesus! Amen.
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