Jesus loves me! This I know, for the bible tells me so. So go the words to a popular children’s song. But what exactly is God’s love like? We should expect that God’s love should be very much like our own love. If it were not, we’d likely not call it love at all, but something different. On the other hand, since we are talking about God, we expect His love to be quite different from our own love. We expect it to be superior in every way. To be perfect. As we explore His love, we will see that although His love is similar to ours, it is not our love. Rather, it is love as it should be.
Perhaps the first thing we should explore as we probe this question are the very words of God himself. Long ago, God revealed Himself to Moses. During this monumental event of revelation, God spoke these words of Himself:
“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” Exodus 34:6
Some of the key elements of God’s love are proclaimed in this statement by God. Just try reading that verse again. Read it phrase by phrase, stop at every comma and consider what each phrase has to say about God’s love.
God’s love is always that way. It never fails. It is not just love, but love as it should be. The last phrase in the verse above contains the words “abounding love and faithfulness”. Those words show up over and over again in the Old Testament. Almost like a formula for what God’s love is like.
In the new testament, the apostle John took a stab at translating these words for His readers. He wrote the following:
“We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John used the words “full of grace and truth” to further explain the words “abounding in love and faithfulness."
There is something remarkable in the words of John. John wrote those words about the one who came from the Father. He was writing about Jesus and he described Him as possessing the glory of the One and Only, and the love of the One and Only. He was full of grace and truth. The love of God is best explained in the person of the Lord Jesus, and the best explanation the Lord Jesus gave us is the cross.
The Bible teaches that we are all sinners and in need of forgiveness. God loves each person, but Abraham also describes Him as “the Judge of all the world” (Genesis 18:25). God must punish sin, but what if the punishment for sin is more that we are able to bear? What happens if the punishment will cost us our souls?
In the most loving rescue we will ever know, God stepped into human history in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived without sin. When he died, he was punished for the sins of the world. He rose from the grave and lives today with God the Father. He suffered immensely and gave his life for us so that we might be forgiven. He received the punishment for our sins.
Jesus said these words:
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
God’s love is extreme. It is sacrificing, it is not self-serving. It is slow to anger, it is compassionate and gracious. It is faithful. It is totally unconditional. John writes that “God is love” (1 John 4:16) – it is in His nature. He is loving, even if we are not lovely. Someone has said that God’s love is free, not because it is cheap, but because it is too expensive to buy. Hallelujah!
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