February 2015

February is the month of love. Valentine’s Day is huge business and most couples take this special day to express their love for their spouse (or boyfriend/girlfriend). I think if you are in a relationship where you are in love, you would probably characterize it as ‘strong’ or ‘good.’ I’ve never heard anyone in a relationship of love describe that love as ‘all right’ or ‘weak.’ We tend to think that we are loving very strongly and very passionately, and there is nothing wrong with that.

          But in this article I want to share a love that no human love can even come close to. I’m talking about the love of God for His children. If we think our love is strong and passionate, that only elevates God’s love to even higher heights. I’ve heard some old fantastic hymns that discuss the love of God. Songs like “Amazing Love” or “The Love of God” are amazing hymns that try to put into words the awesome love of God. I have to say, in my opinion, modern day song writing about the love of God falls woefully short. But those wonderful hymns cannot even appropriately capture with words, the deep love of God.

          I want to draw your attention to a verse in a chapter in the Bible that is not about love. In fact, it is about death and sorrow. It is Isaiah 53. This chapter is famously known as the most clear, concise, accurate prediction of the suffering of the Messiah in all the Old Testament. It is graphic, violent, and can point to none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.  But as I said, this chapter is not about love, it is about the suffering of the Messiah. I don’t have to go into all the details; you can read Isaiah 53 on your own time. But I would like to draw your attention to a part of a verse in chapter 53. The beginning of verse 10 says this, “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief.” There are two people mentioned here: The Lord and Him. The ‘Him’ is referring to the suffering servant of God that Isaiah is talking about, and we know Him to be the Lord Jesus Christ. Then the only question is, who is the ‘Lord’? It must be God the Father. So here is my translation of that verse: God the Father was pleased to crush His Son Jesus Christ.

You may be wondering how this shows the love of God. Well, let me explain. It was not just the physical sufferings of Christ that were significant. As He died on the cross it was our transgressions and iniquities that were dumped upon Him (v 5). And, verse 12 says that “He Himself bore the sins of many.” The death of Christ was not simply about giving us a good example of how to handle unfair treatment. It was a legal transaction on our behalf. Christ was bearing our sins, our iniquities, and our transgressions as He died on the cross. He was punished as if He committed those sins, when in fact He hadn’t. Here is where the love of God comes in: the Father was pleased to do this to His Son for our salvation/justification.

Now, let me be clear, Christ was in no way an unwilling participant in this. He clearly stated that He was laying down His life on His own initiative, no one was making Him do it (John 10:17-18). So, Jesus’ love is just as grand as the Father’s. But, as verse 10 said in Isaiah 53, the Father was pleased to crush Him. God would happily crush His own Son, treat Him as a sinner, and punish Him accordingly…for us. That is amazing love. That is unbelievable love. That is awesome love. This love is higher than any other love in existence.

While we think of our romantic love as wonderful and without end, this love cannot even compare. Would we willingly crush someone in our family, treat them unfairly and unjustly, for the eternal blessing of someone who is our enemy? I sincerely doubt it. But that is what God did. He crushed His own Son, His beloved Son, and allowed Him to be treated in the most unfair of ways, so that His enemies (us) could receive salvation and eternal life. That is love.

I’m not trying to rain on the parade of Valentine’s Day. I encourage you to spend joyful time with your spouse, tell him/her of your love, and cultivate that relationship. But as you do, be humbled because of the vastly superior love of God displayed upon you and I.  

Pastor Mark Scialabba