From the Pastor’s Desk
Karl Barth, a famous though controversial contemporary Swiss theologian, was a great thinker, a prolific writer, and a professor at several European universities. On one occasion, he was confronted by a reporter who wanted a brief summary of his 12 thick volumes on church dogma. Barth could have given an impressive intellectual reply, but didn’t. Quoting from the popular child’s hymn, he simply said, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
And there is no greater proof of this love than when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave His life for us. It was Jesus who said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” His own love, however, went much further than this. He laid down his life for His enemies as well as His friends.
Imagine the torturous agony Christ must have endured when nailed to the cross. This was the price He paid to die for our sins. Added to His physical suffering was His sense of utter rejection by being forsaken, not only by His few remaining friends, but also by God. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cried out in utter despair from the cross.
But so great was His love even for those who caused His excruciating pain — those who nailed Him to the cross, thrust a spear into His side, mocked Him, spat in His face — that in the midst of this inhuman torture He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
Human love is often conditional. If we are what others want us to be and do what they want us to do, we are loved. If not, we are often rejected. Fortunately, God’s love is never conditional. It is never based on who we are or what we do — good or bad. He loves us simply because we are his creation. Because Christ himself was sinless, only He could die to pay the penalty for and thereby save us from our sins. We simply cannot save ourselves.
I read about a drowning boy who was struggling frantically to save himself. On the bank his distraught mother pleaded with a man to save her son, but the man made no move. When the boy weakened, and gave up the struggle to save himself, the man then jumped into the stream and rescued him. “Why didn’t you save my boy sooner?” the mother asked. “I couldn’t as long as he struggled,” the man replied. “He would have dragged us both to death. When he gave up the struggle to save himself, it was easy to rescue him.”
We, too, need to give up the struggle to save ourselves from our sin. Only Jesus Christ, the Son of God, can do that. As we admit and confess to God that we are sinners, believe in our heart that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins, and invite Jesus to come into our heart and life as our personal Savior asking God to forgive us for all our sins, God gives us His free pardon and the gift of eternal life. This He promised He would do.
-Adapted from “Acts International” article