God's Love for Man
NATURE and revelation alike testify of
God's love. Our Father in heaven is the source of life, of wisdom, and of joy. Look at the
wonderful and beautiful things of nature. Think of their marvelous adaptation to the needs
and happiness, not only of man, but of all living creatures. The sunshine and the rain,
that gladden and refresh the earth, the hills and seas and plains, all speak to us of the
Creator's love. It is God who supplies the daily needs of all His creatures. In the
beautiful words of the psalmist--
"The eyes of all wait
upon Thee; And Thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest Thine hand, And
satisfiest the desire of every living thing." Psalm 145:15, 16.
God made man perfectly holy
and happy; and the fair earth, as it came from the Creator's hand, bore no blight of decay
or shadow of the curse. It is transgression of God's law--the law of love--that has
brought woe and death. Yet even amid the suffering that results from sin, God's love is
revealed. It is written that God cursed the ground for man's sake. Genesis 3:17. The thorn
and the thistle--the difficulties and trials that make his life one of toil and care--were
appointed for his good as a part of the training needful in God's plan for his uplifting
from the ruin and degradation that sin has wrought. The
world, though fallen, is not all
sorrow and misery. In nature itself are messages of hope and comfort. There are flowers
upon the thistles, and the thorns are covered with roses.
"God is love" is
written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass. The lovely birds
making the air vocal with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers in their
perfection perfuming the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of
living green -- all testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to
make His children happy.
The word of God reveals His
character. He Himself has declared His infinite love and pity. When Moses prayed,
"Show me Thy glory," the Lord answered, "I will make all My goodness pass
before thee." Exodus 33:18, 19. This is His glory. The Lord passed before Moses, and
proclaimed, "The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and
abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and
transgression and sin." Exodus 34:6, 7. He is "slow to anger, and of great
kindness," "because He delighteth in mercy." Jonah 4:2; Micah 7:18.
God has bound our hearts to
Him by unnumbered tokens in heaven and in earth. Through the things of nature, and the
deepest and tenderest earthly ties that human hearts can know, He has sought to reveal
Himself to us. Yet these but imperfectly represent His love. Though all these evidences
have been given, the enemy of good blinded the minds of men, so that they looked upon God
with fear; they thought of
Him as severe and unforgiving. Satan led men to conceive of God
as a being whose chief attribute is stern justice,--one who is a severe judge, a harsh,
exacting creditor. He pictured the Creator as a being who is watching with jealous eye to
discern the errors and mistakes of men, that He may visit judgments upon them. It was to
remove this dark shadow, by revealing to the world the infinite love of God, that Jesus
came to live among men.
The Son of God came from
heaven to make manifest the Father. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only
begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." John 1:18.
"Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will
reveal Him." Matthew 11:27. When one of the disciples made the request, "Show us
the Father," Jesus answered, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast
thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou
then, Show us the Father?" John 14:8, 9.
In describing His earthly
mission, Jesus said, The Lord "hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He
hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and
recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." Luke
4:18. This was His work. He went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by
Satan. There were whole villages where there was not a moan of sickness in any house, for
He had passed through them and healed all their sick. His work gave evidence of His divine
anointing. Love, mercy, and compassion were revealed in every act of
His life; His heart
went out in tender sympathy to the children of men. He took man's nature, that He might
reach man's wants. The poorest and humblest were not afraid to approach Him. Even little
children were attracted to Him. They loved to climb upon His knees and gaze into the
pensive face, benignant with love.
Jesus did not suppress one
word of truth, but He uttered it always in love. He exercised the greatest tact and
thoughtful, kind attention in His intercourse with the people. He was never rude, never
needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not
censure human weakness. He spoke the truth, but always in love. He denounced hypocrisy,
unbelief, and iniquity; but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. He
wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, which refused to receive Him, the way, the truth,
and the life. They had rejected Him, the Saviour, but He regarded them with pitying
tenderness. His life was one of self-denial and thoughtful care for others. Every soul was
precious in His eyes. While He ever bore Himself with divine dignity, He bowed with the
tenderest regard to every member of the family of God. In all men He saw fallen souls whom
it was His mission to save.
Such is the character of
Christ as revealed in His life. This is the character of God. It is from the Father's
heart that the streams of divine compassion, manifest in Christ, flow out to the children
of men. Jesus, the tender, pitying Saviour, was God "manifest in the flesh." 1
It was to redeem us that
Jesus lived and suffered and died. He became "a Man of Sorrows," that we might
be made partakers of everlasting joy. God permitted His beloved Son, full of grace and
truth, to come from a world of indescribable glory, to a world marred and blighted with
sin, darkened with the shadow of death and the curse. He permitted Him to leave the bosom
of His love, the adoration of the angels, to suffer shame, insult, humiliation, hatred,
and death. "The chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are
healed." Isaiah 53:5. Behold Him in the wilderness, in Gethsemane, upon the cross!
The spotless Son of God took upon Himself the burden of sin. He who had been one with God,
felt in His soul the awful separation that sin makes between God and man. This wrung from
His lips the anguished cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Matthew
27:46. It was the burden of sin, the sense of its terrible enormity, of its separation of
the soul from God--it was this that broke the heart of the Son of God.
But this great sacrifice was
not made in order to create in the Father's heart a love for man, not to make Him willing
to save. No, no! "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son."
John 3:16. The Father loves us, not because of the great propitiation, but He provided the
propitiation because He loves us. Christ was the medium through which He could pour out
His infinite love upon a fallen world. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto
Himself." 2 Corinthians 5:19. God suffered with His Son. In the agony of Gethsemane,
the death of
Calvary, the heart of Infinite Love paid the price of our redemption.
Jesus said, "Therefore
doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again." John
10:17. That is, "My Father has so loved you that He even loves Me more for giving My
life to redeem you. In becoming your Substitute and Surety, by surrendering My life, by
taking your liabilities, your transgressions, I am endeared to My Father; for by My
sacrifice, God can be just, and yet the Justifier of him who believeth in Jesus."
None but the Son of God could
accomplish our redemption; for only He who was in the bosom of the Father could declare
Him. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it manifest.
Nothing less than the infinite sacrifice made by Christ in behalf of fallen man could
express the Father's love to lost humanity.
"God so loved the world,
that He gave His only-begotten Son." He gave Him not only to live among men, to bear
their sins, and die their sacrifice. He gave Him to the fallen race. Christ was to
identify Himself with the interests and needs of humanity. He who was one with God has
linked Himself with the children of men by ties that are never to be broken. Jesus is
"not ashamed to call them brethren" (Hebrews 2:11); He is our Sacrifice, our
Advocate, our Brother, bearing our human form before the Father's throne, and through
eternal ages one with the race He has redeemed--the Son of man. And all this that man
might be uplifted from the ruin and degradation of sin that he might reflect the love of
God and share the joy of holiness.
The price paid for our
redemption, the infinite sacrifice of our heavenly Father in giving His Son to die for us,
should give us exalted conceptions of what we may become through Christ. As the inspired
apostle John beheld the height, the depth, the breadth of the Father's love toward the
perishing race, he was filled with adoration and reverence; and, failing to find suitable
language in which to express the greatness and tenderness of this love, he called upon the
world to behold it. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,
that we should be called the sons of God." 1 John 3:1. What a value this places upon
man! Through transgression the sons of man become subjects of Satan. Through faith in the
atoning sacrifice of Christ the sons of Adam may become the sons of God. By assuming human
nature, Christ elevates humanity. Fallen men are placed where, through connection with
Christ, they may indeed become worthy of the name "sons of God."
Such love is without a
parallel. Children of the heavenly King! Precious promise! Theme for the most profound
meditation! The matchless love of God for a world that did not love Him! The thought has a
subduing power upon the soul and brings the mind into captivity to the will of God. The
more we study the divine character in the light of the cross, the more we see mercy,
tenderness, and forgiveness blended with equity and justice, and the more clearly we
discern innumerable evidences of a love that is infinite and a tender pity surpassing a
mother's yearning sympathy for her wayward child.