The Love Of God

christmas-gifts-2-1121740-mIsaiah 7:14
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”

Isaiah 9:6
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

A child born, not a son born. The Son is preexistent, the I AM, and did not come into being that day when Mary gave birth. God gave us His Son. He left heaven, emptied Himself, took the form of a bondservant, and was found in the likeness of Man.

He who fashioned Man in His image, took the likeness of the one He had fashioned. And as a child, He was born—the humble relinquishing of His place at the right hand of the Father in order to secure for us a place at His heavenly banquet table.

I can’t conceive of a greater example of love. The Father giving His beloved Son. The Son obeying the Father and leaving His heavenly home to come to earth. The Triune God expressed His love for us in giving Jesus and in His coming in the form of Man.

In that one act God showed His generosity, His self-sacrifice. But He also showed what His love means: it’s not sentimentality or warm, fuzzy feelings. It’s not tit for tat or “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” It has no limits and is freely given. Further, God’s love “has legs”—it’s not just an emotional expression but it has action to back it up.

God’s love is not about God spoiling us. He doesn’t treat us like a sugar daddy. His love has our best in mind—a spiritual and eternal best. Consequently, God doesn’t hesitate to correct us as part of His love for us. He will not withhold discipline for fear that we might not like Him as well any more. He’s also not concerned about people concluding that they might be nicer than He is. He knows the truth and His love doesn’t compromise the truth.

In fact, God’s love is an extension of His character. He can no more stop loving than He can stop being God.

What did it mean for Emmanuel, God with us, to take up residence outside of glory? He was subject to all the stuff of Mankind—the passions and joys and hopes and successes, but also the dreams cut short, the sadnesses, the temptations.

Indeed, the temptations. Scripture says He was tempted in every way we are, yet without sin:

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (Heb. 4:15)

Impossible, some may think. How could He be tempted to OD on computer games or look at dirty pictures?

We know He lived life among us for over thirty years. At different junctures during His public ministry, the religious leaders laid traps for Him, trying to trip Him up so they could catch Him in an offense they could prosecute by law.

But what about those years before He began preaching and healing? Isn’t it likely that the strains of His blended family created temptations? Perhaps He also faced noisy neighbors during those years or the abuse of a bully. Because of the wedding in Cana, we know He had to deal with the expectations of His mother. Perhaps He also dealt with jealous brothers.

Later He may have had to deal with the temptation to abandon His life work to fit in with the role His family likely expected Him to fill—that of elder brother, settling down, marrying, and caring for their widowed mother.

Unfortunately we too often reduce Jesus’s temptations to three—the notorious ones recorded in the gospels for us where Satan entices Him to made bread from stones, to swap worship for power, and to test God’s promise. Lots of people have lots to say about these temptations—the kinds, the depth, the significance. Meanwhile, we’re overlooking a little clause in Mark 1:13.

And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him. (Emphasis mine)

So on top of the thirty years of temptations Jesus encountered by living life among us, he also had an intense forty days of Satan throwing whatever he could at Jesus. Whatever we face today, Jesus faced a comparable temptation.

But His coming among us served two greater purposes than offering us an understanding heart to turn to when temptations crowd in upon us.

First, He showed us God. If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father, He told His disciples. Paul said, “He is the image of the invisible God,” and “In Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form.” We look at Jesus, we see God—which makes sense, of course, because He IS God.

However, without the second reason, His coming would have amounted to cruel taunting. Here’s God, a-ha-ha-ha-hah, you can see but you can’t approach. Jesus came precisely for the reason that we needed what only a perfect man could give—His blood, for the remission of sins. Not for His own sins, because He had none. He poured out His life’s blood so that our sins could be forgiven.

In so doing, He opened up the way for us to be reconciled to God:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16, emphasis added)

Advertisements
Published in: on December 23, 2014 at 6:00 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,

2 Comments

  1. The Isaiah 7:14 passage was given to King Ahaz. How do you derive that this was a prophecy for the character, Jesus of Nazareth?
    I would be very interested in reading your explanation, Becky.

    Like

  2. Interesting question, Ark. Because Matthew specifically quotes the Isaiah passage and links it to Jesus, I’ve had no problem understanding that the prophecy relates to Christ:

    Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME fnIMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” (Matt. 1:22-23)

    What I have questioned is how Jesus’s birth could be a sign to Ahaz. So your question enticed me to do a little reading. I found some interesting articles postulating various positions. The one I liked the best did a good job pointing out problems in the various interpretations (i.e. if this was an example of a two-prong prophecy, as so many in the Bible are, were there two virgin births?—certainly something that would call into question the significance of Jesus’s birth, which otherwise is understood as unique.)

    This paper suggests something I also found in a fairly old commentary—that this was one prophecy with two parts. The actual issue at stake was whether the line of King David would come to an end because the nations surrounding Judah intended to supplant Ahaz with a foreign puppet. But God’s promise to Israel was that the house of David would have a king on the throne forever.

    Isaiah’s prophecy, then, pointed to the Messiah, born of a virgin and identified as God with us, who would be the forever King, something other Messianic prophecies confirm.

    The second half of the prophecy refers to the demise of the nations coming against Judah at that time of Ahaz’s rule. The commentary I mention suggested that the child of the succeeding verses referred to Isaiah’s son who he had with him, not the One to be born of a virgin. This idea is interesting, but is in no way conclusive. Other scholars have suggested other possibilities.

    The paper I found most helpful is in PDF, if you’re interested reading it for yourself: https://www.dbts.edu/journals/2007/Compton2007.pdf

    And this is probably much more than you were asking. 😕 Sorry I got carried away.

    Becky

    Like


Comments are closed.