There was a story told me long ago, which I have no reason to believe false, of twins, who shared a room in San Francisco in the early 1900’s. They had emigrated from China, and were making their way in the new world. One evening, one of the brothers was returning home and got involved in a fight. Knives were drawn and the ensuing battle ended with the brother running from the scene, soaked in blood, and leaving behind the body of his assailant lying in the street. Panic stricken, and knowing that the law would soon be in pursuit, he dashed home, cleaned himself up, stashed the bloody clothes in the corner of the closet and fled town.
Later, his twin came home from work and after his evening supper, went to bed. It was not long however before a loud knock on the door disturbed him. Opening the door to the police he innocently ushered them inside, and after a quick search of the room and finding the incriminating evidence in the closet, the police had no hesitation in making an arrest. The now handcuffed twin quickly perceived the true nature of the events which had transpired that evening leading to his arrest yet he said nothing, nor made any protest. Out of love, loyalty and devotion to his brother he went through the trial, was found guilty, and accepted the death penalty in his brother’s stead.
Some time later, the fugitive brother discovered to his dismay what had happened. Wracked with remorse, guilt, and shame he presented himself to the police and confessed his crime. The police at this time were unable however to do anything. As far as the law was concerned, justice had been satisfied.
But as great and selfless as was the innocent brother’s love toward his wayward twin, it pales into insignificance when compared with the love God has for mankind and the lengths He has gone to in order to redeem us.
Calvary.The pivotal point of all history, and the event around which all other historical landmarks gather. Calvary. Who can fully understand it? What words can describe the immeasurable and unfathomable love that God displayed to the universe, that awful day 2000 years ago?
It is one thing for a man to give his life for the brother he loves; as Paul says in
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
Jesus gave His life for His enemies! Because He loved even them! And I’m not talking about just those who crucified Him, I’m talking about you and me. Except we be in Christ, we are His enemy.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Jesus said that there is no greater love for a man than that he lays down his life for a friend.(Jn15:13). But there is a greater love. Yes, there is giving your life for your enemy. Dying, that your enemy may live?! Only God is capable of that.
Do you realize that in order for the full justice to be satisfied, Jesus’ death had to be precisely that which we deserve? That means that Jesus had to die without hope! A death with no hope of a resurrection! When the full burden of guilt and shame was laid upon His dying body, enshrouded in darkness and burdened with sin, Jesus lost all hope of seeing His Father again. He truly believed He was eternally lost. Just as we would have been. He faced what seemed to Him, oblivion.” My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Yet He still chose to die.
The face that had brought relief and cheer to the afflicted was now bruised and covered in blood from the barbaric crown that adorned the only true King. The hands that had blessed children and held them in his arms were now pinned to a crude cross. The feet that had trod many weary miles to bring the gospel of love and forgiveness to the sin-laden multitudes were now held fast by a rusty Roman nail. The One who for three and a half years had brought healing and joy to whosoever believed, was now offering up His life for the transgression of the people. (Is 53:8; Ps 22 16
When offered a sedative, He refused. He wanted a clear mind,for His battle against Satan was not yet over. Abuse, vitriol and cruel mockings assailed Him from every side. Yet He expressed only pity and compassion for His detractors. Wonderful love. Praying for His persecutors. “Forgive them Father”! And they didn’t know what they were doing. Not the Romans anyway. To them just another criminal. But the Jewish rulers? Jesus Himself intimated that they knew exactly Who He was but they hated Him anyway. And Jesus continued to love them. His scathing rebukes of the Pharisees and scribes were never condemnatory, but were always delivered to expose error and bring them to repentance.
Yes, Jesus loved His enemies. And His infinite love was expressed also through His forgiveness of the thief on the cross, and through His concern for His mother’s welfare. Although the priests and rulers mockingly challenged Him to step down from the cross, it was because Jesus was thinking of others that He stayed up there. Looking down through the ages to our time He sees a mother spurned by her children and gave His life for her. He sees an abusive father and husband, and loves him, and lays down His life for him. He sees children neglected and abandoned, and thinks to Himself, they need to live for I love them, therefore I shall die. He sees the oppressed and downtrodden throughout all of time and human history and shoulders their cares and burdens and suffers in their stead. He sees dictators and warlords, slaves and masters, laborers, kings, paupers, priests, pimps, drugdealers, businessmen, politicians, tradesmen, sinners, the self-righteous, the proud, the arrogant, the bigot, the wicked and the lost. His love knows no bounds. Whatever colour whatever race, whatever creed, tongue, nation, tribe, gender or age, His love remains constant, unflinching, unending and unconditional.
But there is more, for God’s love is deeper than even that. Think for a moment. What are we? Sinners yes, but what kind? Are we gods? Angels? No, we are men. A creation lower than angels. Animated mud. Dirt plus wind. “What manner of love IS this? That WE should be called the children of God!” It is like man giving his life for a worm. And a rebellious worm at that.
But there’s more. In order to die as a man , Jesus had to become a man. Do you realize the significance of that? That the Creator Himself has made Himself in fashion and substance as His creature? Forever! Amazing love!
As children of God, we are not just ordinary children. Nor do we have an ordinary Father. And the privileges and responsibilities we have as children are not exactly run-of-the-mill either.No, as children go, we are extraordinarily rebellious, selfish, disobedient, lawless little brats who fully deserve their come-uppance; children who have earned nothing more than to be marched off into ignominy with the word ‘FAILURE’ emblazoned upon our backs in big broad letters. Fortunately for us however we have a
Father who is extraordinarily loving and merciful. ’But where sin abounded did grace much more abound’ Rom 5:20. A Father Who, despite our many faults and failures, calls us His dearly beloved children. A Father Who constantly, faithfully, and unfailingly forgives and yearns to wrap His loving arms around us and hug us to bits. A Father Who, excuse the euphemism, is absolutely, totally, emphatically crazy about us. And why?Because He made us. And because in the beginning He made us perfect, in His Own image and likeness, He can see not only what we once were before sin etched it’s ugly marks on our character and lives, but He can see what we can become, should we repent and turn away from sin, and allow Him the opportunity to recreate us. An extraordinary Father indeed. ’Gracious and merciful, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin…(Exodus 34:6,7).
John said, ‘Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God’.(1 John 3:1.)
And astonishingly the invitation is open to all.
‘For God so loved the world that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.’ Jn 3:16
‘And the Spirit and the bride say come. And let him that heareth say come. and let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’Rev 22:17.
So God does not love us because of who we are, nor because of anything we have or have not done; but rather because of who He is, and what He can make of us and accomplish through us.
My earthly father owned a small business in a moderately sized city. He specialised in a product and service that was unique in town at the time. Before he died when I was but a youngster of 12, I well remember the pride I had in being his son. He was highly respected in town for his trade, his service, and his character.And I was absolutely proud of him: not because of who I was or had done, but solely on who he was, and the community’s estimation of him. How much more should we be proud of our Heavenly Father because of who He is and what He has done. The Creator of all things, and a God of infinite mercy and love. And He is our Dad. And just as I had certain privileges in being my father’s son, so also do we have certain privileges in being children of God. Wonderful privileges, awesome and extraordinary.For we are princes and princesses, members of a royal household, children of a reigning Monarch. That counts for something far greater than being simply a member of the common herd. All because our Father is the King.The King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. So in direct proportion to the greatness of the King, so are the privileges great for those He calls His own.
But as we take great pleasure and joy in serving and loving our heavenly Father, let us remember that along with the wonderful privileges and advantages, are some very solemn and awesome responsibilities.
Because of the high and exalted position of our Father, so our responsibilities reflect the place He holds as King and ruler of the universe, and the potential damage that can result from our failure in living up to them. Just as all the glory goes to Him for our well doing, so also do we bring disrepute upon His name and character each time we fail to live up to the standards that He Himself laid down for us. Our Father’s enemies will never fail to take every advantage of every opportunity to malign the nature of God thus attempting to undermine His influence for good in the world.
So, who are we again?
Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 ¶ And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint–heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Galatians 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Eph 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
I thought about the advantages of being an earthly prince, and then transferred them to the spiritual realm. I may be taking some liberties, but judge for yourselves. Maybe you can think of more.
1. We are able to take on the very nature of our Father, and at the appropriate time, even immortality.
2 Peter 1:4 Rom. 8:29 1 John 5: 11,12.
2. Free access to the royal wardrobe.
Isa. 61:10 Zech. 3: 1-5 Math. 6: 28-30 Eph. 6: 13-17 Rev.7:9
3.The very best healthcare system.
Gen. 1:29 Exod. 15:26 Ps 91 Ps.103:3
4. Friends in high places.
Jer. 9: 23,24. 29:11-13. John 14: 6,7, 16-26. 17: 3,20-23. Rom. 8: 9 Coll. 1 :27
5. Insight into the secrets of government; and of those who seek to usurp His power, the enemy.
Ps. 25:14 Isa 14: 12-15 45:19 Dan 2:20-22 Amos 3:7 John 10:10 1Cor 2: 12-16
2 Thess 2: 3,4.
6. The privilege of sharing the good news of the gospel, extending the invitation into all the world.
Math 22: 9 Mark 16:15 Acts 1: 7,8 9: 15 Eph 3: 6-9 2 Tim 2: 24-26 4: 1-5
1 Peter 2: 9,10 3:15. Rev 14: 6-12.
7. The best education.
Mark 4: 11 Eph 1: 17,18 Coll 3:16 Heb. 4:12 2 Tim 3: 15-17
8. An unending supply of riches.
Math 6: 25-34 Luke 11: 5-13 Eph. 2: 4-7
9. A top class highly trained and motivated security organization
2 Kings 6: 15-17 Psalm 91:11 103:20 1104:4 Math 18:10 Heb. 1: 14.
10. Free unlimited access to the very throne room of God. Our relationship with Him is not long distance,
but immediate through Jesus Who ministers now in the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf.
Eph 2:18 Hebrews 4: 16, 8: 1,2 9: 24 10: 19-22
11. International travel
Math 8:11 Luke 13:29
12 A palace for home.
Jn 14: 1-3. Rev 21: 1-3