People all over the world are looking for love.
According to Amazon.com, there are at least 32,507 books currently in print with the word love in the title (over 145,000 that deal with the subject of love). There are more than 11,000 popular albums/CDs with love in the title. A Google search of the Internet reveals that there are at least 121,000,000 Websites that use the word love as one of their key words.1
The Bible is a book about a love story. It is about God’s love for humanity, His wooing of our affection through the mediator, His Son. The word love (various forms) is found 419 times in the Bible. The book of 1 John
has love for its theme. It tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8
), and then shows that God has demonstrated—made manifest—His love (1 John 3:16
; 1 John 4:9-10
Love is not just something we feel; it is more often something we do. Love requires action; it is demonstrated through behavior. God’s love is more than just talk; He demonstrated compassion so we would learn to be compassionate. As Paul said, “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24
). John wrote, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18
; cf. James 2:15-16
God demonstrates his love for us by gift-giving.
One of the “five languages of love”2 is “gift-giving.”
We enjoy surprising our mates with a little something we picked up on a trip. We take pleasure in giving presents to our children during the holidays. We celebrate graduations, weddings, and births with gift-giving.
God also uses this “love language” to express His sentiments to man. He “gave gifts unto men” (Ephesians 4:8
). He leaves no one out—even His avowed enemies get daily gifts from the Creator they deny. “The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:9
). He gives us sunshine and rain, fruitful seasons, and beautiful vistas. Paul and Barnabas explained that God had “left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17
; cf. Matthew 5:45
God demonstrates his love for us through the life of his son.
Jesus helped us to get to know the God of love. Love (various forms) is found eighty-six times in the eighty-nine chapters of Jesus’ biographies (when compassion is added, the total increases to one hundred times). Jesus told Philip, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9
). We saw Jesus’ love demonstrated in feeding hungry people (John 6
), healing hurting people (Matthew 4:24
), directing lost people (Matthew 9:35-36
), correcting wrong people (Matthew 23
), accepting rejected people (Luke 19:1-10
), and dying for lost people (Matthew 20:28
Someone once wrote about a traveler who fell into a deep pit and couldn’t get out. Several persons came along and saw him struggling in the pit.
The sensitive person said, “I feel for you down there.”
The reflective person said, “It’s logical that someone would fall into the pit.”
The aesthetic person said, “I can give you ideas on how to decorate your pit.”
The judgmental person said, “Only bad people fall into pits.”
The curious person said, “Tell me how you fell into the pit.”
The perfectionist said, “I believe you deserve your pit.”
The evaluator asked, “Are you paying taxes on this pit?”
The self-pitying person said, “You should have seen my pit.”
The counselor said, “Just relax. Don’t think about the pit.”
The optimist said, “Cheer up! Things could be worse."
The pessimist said, “Be prepared! Things will get worse.”
Jesus, seeing him, loved him, and lifted him out of the pit.3
A Christian can truthfully sing, “I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore” when “love lifted me!”
God demonstrates his love for us through the death of his son.
God has an infallible track record. He can be trusted. He has proven beyond question that He loves us. The Bible says, “But God commendeth4
[demonstrated] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8
John Griffith lived in Oklahoma in 1929, and he lost all he had in the stock market crash. He moved to Mississippi, where he took a job tending a bridge for a railroad trestle. One day in 1937, his eight-year-old son, Greg, spent the day with his dad at work. He played in the office that morning and asked a thousand questions. Then a ship came through and John opened the drawbridge. Suddenly, he realized his son wasn’t in the office.
Frantically he looked around, and to his horror saw him climbing on the gears of the draw bridge. He hurried outside to rescue his son, but just then he heard what he knew was a fast approaching passenger train, the Memphis Express, filled with four hundred people. He yelled to his son, but the noise of the now clearing ship and the oncoming train made it impossible for the boy to hear him. John Griffith realized his horrible dilemma. If he took the time to rescue his son the train would crash and kill all aboard. If he closed the bridge, he would sacrifice his son.
He made the decision he would relive ten thousand times and pulled the lever to close the bridge. As the train went by he could see some passengers’ faces. Some were reading, some waved, and all were oblivious to the sacrifice that had just been made on their behalf.
God once faced a similar dilemma. He could not save sinners and spare Jesus, too. How could He be “just” and “justifier” at the same time? (cf. Romans 3:26
). God had to allow the jaws of death to close on His Son. He “spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (Romans 8:32
). Millions go by oblivious and indifferent, even some who know the sacrifice.
Still, there is one tremendous difference between the two fathers. Unlike the Memphis Express
that caught John Griffith by surprise, sending Jesus was not a panic move. It wasn’t a spontaneous decision. It was planned. Paul said, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4
). Jesus’ death was not the result of jealous Jews or hard-hearted Romans. It was the result of a loving God who saw there was no other way to save man. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16
Since people are looking for love, and “God is love” (1 John 4:8
), God is what people are looking for!
1 “God Is Love,” Scott R. Bayles, SermonCentral.com.
2 According to Gary Chapman’s best-selling book The Five Language of Love.
3 Author unknown.
4 sunistao, sunistano, sunistemi, “to set together, by implication to introduce (favorably), or (figuratively) to exhibit; intransitively to stand near.”
5 For more, see “The Scourging of Jesus.”