God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 1 John 4:9 NLT
When the boys were little, we read them bedtime stories, one of the books we read was, "Guess How Much I Love You." The book is about a playful bedtime conversation between Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare as they try to express a measure of their love for each other.
"I love you up to the moon,' said Little Nutbrown Hare.
'Oh, that's far,' said Big Nutbrown Hare. 'That is very far.' Big Nutbrown Hare settles Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves.
He leaned over and kissed him goodnight. Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile, 'I love you to the moon and back."
That's a pretty good measure in human minds, but it doesn't come close to expressing God's love for us. Every time I read today's verse, I'm awed at those depths.
As parents, we know how much we love our children, so we can appreciate the excruciating loss of a child and all the grief and pain that accompanies that passing. That gives us some measure of how our Father must have felt at the death of his only Son. Of course, the Father intended to resurrect the Son, but that does not minimize the suffering, humiliation, and death of Jesus, nor the Father's anguish.
The Father's sinless and innocent Son died for us; that was the plan, sacrificing himself because of our sin. Though God could have written us off entirely, it would have been well within his right; he instead took human form to offer us redemption. And despite our continued sinfulness, the Father demonstrates his infinite grace.
He loves us so much; he wants us to be with him forever! In conquering death, Jesus made this possible. By accepting his invitation, we have the hope of that promise, a promise that has no exclusions or exemptions; it is open to all.
Father, thank you for loving us so much that you'd send your only Son, Jesus, to atone for our sins and offer us forgiveness. His glorious resurrection also gives us the hope of eternal life. We confess that we cannot fully comprehend your love; it's too vast for our human understanding, and we are humbled and awed by its depths. Help us to love as you love, lead and guide us by the Holy Spirit, and help us to return that love to you and others. Embolden us to share the message of your incredible, life-saving love with all. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.