Both the Bible and nature tell us about God’s love. Look at the beautiful things in nature. Think of their marvelous adaptation to the needs and happiness of both human beings and animals. The sunshine and the rain that refresh the earth, the hills and seas and plains, all speak to us of God’s love. He is the One who supplies our daily needs. In the beautiful words of the psalmist, “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand, and satisfy the desires of every living thing” (Psalm 145:15, 16).
God made human beings perfectly holy and happy, and the lovely earth, as it came from His hand, held no indication of a curse. Disobedience of God’s law of love brought pain and death. Yet God’s love is seen even in the suffering that results from sin. The Bible says that God cursed the ground for the sake of human beings (Genesis 3:17). The difficulties and trials that cause us so much pain were given for our good as part of the training we need in God’s plan for lifting us up from the ruin and degradation caused by sin. The world, though fallen, is not all sorrow and misery. In nature itself we see messages of hope and comfort. Thistles have flowers and thorns are covered with roses.
The words God is love are written on every opening bud and every blade of grass. The lovely birds that fill the air with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers that perfume the air, the lofty trees in the forest with their beautiful green branches—all these testify to God’s care and His desire to make us happy.
God Himself declared His infinite love for human beings. When Moses prayed, “Show me your glory,” God answered, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you” (Exodus 33:18, 19). Then He passed before Moses and proclaimed that He is “the compassionate and gracious God, . . . abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 34:6, 7). He is “slow to anger and abounding in love,” and He “delight[s] to show mercy” (Jonah 4:2; Micah 7:18).
Yet in spite of the fact that God has given all these evidences of His love, Satan has blinded our minds to the point that we look upon God with fear. We think of Him as severe and unforgiving. Satan has led us to think of God as a Being whose chief attribute is stern justice, a hard-hearted Judge, a harsh, exacting Creditor. He pictures God as a Being who’s watching with a jealous eye to discern our sins and mistakes in order to visit judgments on us. But Jesus came to remove this dark shadow and reveal the truth about God’s infinite love.
When one of the disciples asked Jesus to “show us the Father,” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ ” (John 14:8, 9, NKJV).2
Jesus went about doing good and healing everyone who was tormented by Satan. There were whole villages where there wasn’t a groan of sickness in any home, because Jesus had passed through and healed all the sick people. He took our human nature so that He could reach our needs. The poorest and most humble were not afraid to approach Him. Even little children were attracted to Him. They loved to climb up on His knees and gaze into His face so full of love.
Jesus never suppressed a word of truth, but He always spoke it in love. He demonstrated the greatest tact and kind consideration in His dealings with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He didn’t censure human weakness. He denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and evil, but tears were in His voice as He spoke His severe rebukes. He wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, which refused to receive Him. Even though they had rejected Him, He regarded them with tenderness.
Every human being is precious in Jesus’ eyes. While He always carried Himself with divine dignity, He bowed with the most tender regard to every member of God’s family. In each one He saw a fallen person whom it was His mission to save.
It was to redeem us that Jesus lived and suffered and died. He became “a Man of Sorrows” so that we could be partakers of everlasting joy. God permitted His beloved Son to come from a world of indescribable glory to a world scarred by sin, death, and the curse. He permitted Him to leave heaven and the adoration of the angels so He could suffer shame, insult, and death.
See Him in the wilderness, in Gethsemane, upon the cross! The spotless Son of God took upon Himself the burden of the world’s sin. He who had been one with God felt in the deepest part of His being the awful separation that sin makes between the human race and God. This wrung from His lips the anguished cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). It was the weight 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 God’s heart a love for human beings, nor was it to make Him willing to save us. No, no! “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). God loves us, not because of Christ’s great sacrifice, but He provided the sacrifice 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 to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19, NKJV). God suffered with His Son. It was through the agony of Gethsemane and Christ’s death on Calvary that God’s heart of infinite love paid the price for our redemption.
Jesus said, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again” (John 10:17). In other words, “My Father loves you so much that He loves Me even more for giving My life to save you.”
God gave Jesus not only to live among us, but to bear our sins and die as our substitute; Jesus, who was one with God, has linked Himself with human beings by ties that are never to be broken. He isn’t “ashamed to call [us His] brothers” (Hebrews 2:11). Jesus bears our human form before the Father’s throne, and through eternal ages He will be one with the human race whom He has redeemed. He did all this in order to uplift us from the ruin and degradation of sin and so that we might reflect the love of God and share the joy that comes from living a life free from sin.
The price paid for our salvation should give us exalted views of what we may become through Christ. As John beheld the height, the depth, and the breadth of the Father’s love toward the dying race, he was filled with praise and worship. And failing to find suitable language to express the greatness of this love, he called upon the world to behold it: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1). What a value this places on human beings! Through transgression we became subjects of Satan, but through faith in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross we can become the sons of God! By assuming our human nature, Christ elevated all humanity. Fallen sinners are placed where, through a connection with Christ, they can actually become worthy of the name “sons of God.”
Such love is without a parallel. Children of the heavenly King! What a precious promise! It’s a theme for the most profound meditation—the matchless love of God for a world that didn’t 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 God’s 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 the innumerable evidences of His infinite love and tender pity that surpasses a mother’s longing for her wayward child.