Monday, February 24, 2014

"The Sacrifice of Love"

      We may suppose that before the creation of angels, and particularly, of human beings, no sacrifice existed in the fact and expression of love.  Three pristinely perfect Persons, united in one Divinity, loved each other with the same determination of affection, devotion, respect, and good will.  "God is love" twice declared the Apostle John in his first epistle (I John 4:8; 16).  The Apostle Paul enhances our understanding by declaring that love "seeketh not her own," thus confirming the wonder of our God's sublimely unselfish nature, character, and way (I Corinthians 13:5).  No sacrifice was necessary, or even possible in such a perfect God, and such a perfect triune relationship.

     This love in the hearts of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ultimately led to the determination to create.  Perfect foreknowledge meant that before creation, God knew of sin's origin in the angelic race, and of its transmission to human beings by Satan.  Sin would mean that love must involve sacrifice, resulting one day in the horrors of Calvary, where God the Father smote God the Son with untold torrents of wrath, judgment, and condemnation as the Lord Jesus bore our sins, and was "made... to be sin" (I Peter 2:24; II Corinthians 5:21).  Of even greater magnitude of sorrow, the Father and the Holy Spirit abandoned the Lord Jesus to die in an agony of brokenhearted loneliness, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?!" (Matthew 27:46).  Thus, the creation of angels and human beings introduced sacrifice into love.  Love would bleed.  Love would sorrow.  Love would cry out in pained perplexity.  Love would lead the Prince of life to experience an aberration completely foreign to His vital nature.  Indeed, love would die.

    When we consider that God loves us, we embrace a reality far beyond our full comprehension.  Certainly we ponder Divine pleasure, for God so wills to love us that of the Lord Jesus, the writer of Hebrews exults, "For the joy that we set before Him, He endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2).  However, we must also understand that creating us meant that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit would make sacrifices regarding their relationship with each other for the purpose of redeeming us.  How does perfect Love smite the eternal Object of its devotion?  Indeed, not long before the cross, the Lord Jesus affirmed to His Father, "Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24).  Not long afterwards, our Savior would cry out in untold agony, and into the blackness of darkness, seeking His Father and the Holy Spirit.  "My God, My God..."   But no answer would come.  No answer could come if humanity was to be redeemed. 

     Our existence introduced sacrifice into the love of God.  Or perhaps it brought forth into realized experience this aspect of selflessness that always existed in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The message for us involves a greater worship of our wondrous Lord, whose love for us made necessary solemn realities heretofore unknown.  Moreover, we must understand that the love to which He calls us also involves sacrifice.  "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (I John 3:16).  Our Heavenly Father honors us by calling us to the same quality of character and life that He lives, and by inhabiting us to make possible our path of self-sacrificial devotion to Him and to others...

"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us."
(Romans 5:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
    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.
(Romans 5:7-8)

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