I can think of no day more packed with love than the day Christ went to the cross. Jesus said that there is no greater love than that a man would give his life for a friend. But on the cross, God gave His Son to die for the world. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
God’s love transcended the animosity of sinful man, for Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. Jesus is a friend of sinners. The sinner may hate God, but God loves the sinner. He demonstrated that on the cross. He had been mocked, spit upon, smitten and lashed until He was unrecognizable, yet on the cross He cried for the Father to forgive them. The pain of the nails in His hands and feet and the thorns on His brow did not snuff out His love.
The thief who asked for mercy found it given freely. When he asked the Lord to remember him when He entered His kingdom, Jesus promised him paradise. It was not a long prayer by the dying man. He didn’t go through twelve steps or four spiritual laws before he found eternal life. He simply prayed for mercy. God’s love is so great that it takes the weakest prayer and answers it with heaven.
Jesus loved those also who were His friends. There at the cross was His grieving mother. When they pierced His hands and His feet they pierced her heart. The disciple John “whom Jesus loved” was also at the cross. He was watching his friend die. It was only a few weeks before that Jesus was on the other side of this cruel experience of death. Lazarus had died and Jesus came to the tomb. And He wept. He knew the feeling of that enemy which will be the last enemy to be destroyed. The Bible says that when Jesus was there at the tomb he groaned within Himself. The word for groaned can also be translated to snort with anger. Jesus was angry at the concept of death. He would do something about it.
When Abraham Lincoln saw a slave auction where men bought other men as if they were cattle, he said, “When I get to, I’ll hit that and I’ll hit it hard!” I believe that is similar to the reaction of Jesus when he felt the sting of the death of Lazarus. He would hit death and He would hit it hard.
Jesus knew that both Mary and John would take His death extremely hard. “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (John 19:26, 27).
Jesus is acutely aware of the pain and sorrow that comes with the death of a loved one. And He did not forget that even in the agony on the cross. He not only cared about the eternal salvation of the world, but He cared about the emotions of those who existentially live in the world and experience all that is involved in life and in
Here we see that Christ’s love is present at the time of death. There are those who become embittered by the untimely death of a friend or loved one but they do not understand the love of God. Jesus cares. And He demonstrated what He will one day do when He raised Lazarus from the dead. He will destroy death and call His own back to Himself. Yet in this life, while we are yet subject to death and its accompanying sorrow, Jesus does not forget us. He knew what Mary needed and He knew what John needed.
What if either Mary or John had abandoned Jesus in His hour of trouble? They would not have heard what He had to say to them that would be a comfort to both. The time of death is no time to abandon Christ. It is time to listen. He may be giving a special message to a mother who is losing a child or to a young man who is losing a friend. John would return the love Jesus had for Him and lavish it on Mary. He would take her to his home and treat her as his mother. Mary would have one to whom she could direct her love. It would not be the same, but it would be a reminder of the great love of God.
Our enemy, the devil, is a dirty fighter. He takes advantage of the weak. When someone is sick he attacks them fiercely. One godly woman who had served the Lord for years came to the end of her life and began to have doubts plague her. Had she done enough? Were the promises for her? Elderly people may become confused and some who are fainthearted may have a great struggle with faith and assurance. This is certainly not true of everyone, but everyone who is a follower of Jesus will be attacked in some way. Satan will accuse us and try to confuse us.
There is one good answer to these attacks from the enemy. Jesus demonstrated it for us when He was tempted in the wilderness. For every temptation, Jesus said, “It is written.” The word of God is the great answer to all of the devil’s schemes.
If God loved us while we were his enemies, if He loved us enough to send His only begotten Son to die for us while we were yet sinners, why would He abandon us now in our hour of trial? “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 (Rom. 5:10). Much more! If He loved us enough to save us, He gives us much more love to keep us. If there was enough love to make us clean when we were vile wretches in rebellion against God, how much more is there love to go with us when as His children we walk through the valleys of life and even of death!
We have His wonderful promise of the divine constancy on our behalf. “For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5b). The Lord has shown His great love to the world and His great love to us. When you are tempted to doubts and fears, remember the great day of love, when “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.