No Greater Love
By Nathele Graham
Love is essential to humans. The love of a parent for their child is the first thing a baby should feel. That love should be shown in many ways. Feeding the baby, even at 2 AM when it would be much nicer to stay in bed and sleep. Changing dirty diapers so the little one is comfortable. Teaching the child to walk and talk is the parent’s responsibility, and in the process of learning to walk, the little one will take many falls. A good parent will encourage and help the child to try again and again until soon those little feet are running into all sorts of mischief. That brings about another form of love, discipline.
As parents, we have to sacrifice a lot in order to raise a child to be a responsible adult and make good choices. Hopefully, that child has learned about love, true love, not the lust of the flesh, but the agapao love of God. Agapeao is a verb…an action. God always demonstrates love. The noun form is agape, which is what we usually think of when describing God’s love and is the love that Christians need to show to each other. God is love.
God created the world and all that’s in it, then Adam made a choice to sin, and that choice had an eternal cost. Because of sin, humanity could no longer have fellowship with God. The immortal life Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden was now a life ruled by death. God could have left Adam and his descendants to die in sin and be separated from Him forever, but God’s love for His creation didn’t end with Adam’s sin. There was one way for the separation to be mended, and that was for God’s blood to be shed. That is the only way for sin and death to lose its hold upon the soul of mankind. God spoke to His prophets, and they wrote His words in Scripture. There were many prophecies concerning the coming Redeemer.
Job, after going through much suffering and loss at the hands of Satan and unkind words from people who called themselves friends, proclaimed “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed” (Job 19:25-27).
That’s quite a proclamation by a man who lived many centuries before Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. Job had faced much suffering, but that suffering drew him closer to God. We are never promised we won’t face trials and tribulations, but if we have faith in God, He will see us through.
Many prophets spoke God’s words of prophecy. The prophet Isaiah told of the coming Messiah and how He would suffer for sinners.
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:3-9).
Jesus suffered much in order to purchase our redemption. The accounts of His betrayal and the trial He faced can be read in the Gospels. Isaiah uttered these words centuries before Jesus was born, but the description of His death and burial is totally accurate. Jesus knew He would face these things, but He chose to be our sacrifice to take our sin away. He was despised by the religious leaders. He was betrayed by one of His followers, and another of His disciples denied knowing Him. Jesus had no sin but was beaten and then crucified for us. He took our sin upon Himself and felt the emptiness when God the Father turned away from Him. Our Heavenly Father cannot look upon sin. Jesus faced all of the abuse willingly for you and me.
Because of Him, we are redeemed and reconciled with God by faith. Oh Jesus, thank You.
Adam’s sin brought eternal death to mankind. Before the cross, a person had to follow the Jewish Law perfectly, all the while looking forward to the coming Messiah, in order to avoid eternal damnation. It was impossible for a person to live perfectly and do the works of the Law. When a person died, their body went into the grave, but their soul went to the abode of the dead, called Sheol in Hebrew. There were 2 parts to this abode. One side was called Torments, and this is where the wicked are awaiting judgment at the White Throne of God. The other side was known as Abraham’s Bosom, or Paradise. This side was where those who looked forward to the coming Messiah awaited His appearance. When Jesus told the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, He described a very poor and sickly beggar named Lazarus.
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:22-23).
We learn a few things from this passage. After our body dies, our soul lives on. We remember people we knew in life and can recognize them. We know that Hell is a real place of eternal torment, but we also know that Paradise is also real. The rich man made his own choices in life, which caused him to spend eternity in Torments. Lazarus also made his own choices. He suffered much in life but kept his faith. When he died, he was carried to the place of comfort after death. The rich man also remembered his family, who were still living. He could have no contact with them, but he still cared about the choices they were making in life.
“And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:24-26).
The choice of where to spend eternity must be made now. Once we pass from this life to the next, we can’t change where we spend eternity.
Then the rich man asked for Lazarus to be sent to his father’s house. “For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:28).
Abraham explained that, like everyone, they had Moses and the prophets to guide them in life. We also have Scripture to guide us. Today, we also have The New Testament. The rich man kept trying and wanted Lazarus to be sent to his family so they would repent. Obviously, the entire family was of the same mindset of having no mercy upon the less fortunate, and they also knew Lazarus and showed no kindness.
Abraham told the rich man, who wasn’t so rich in death, “And he said unto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31).
After Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection, anyone who places faith in Him will go immediately to Heaven after death.
That story should cause everyone to look differently at our choices in life. We have one who rose from the dead — Jesus Christ. His birth is celebrated at Christmas, and His death, burial, and resurrection is celebrated in what is called Easter. Jesus was God incarnate and gave His life so we can live eternally.
“For 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).
Jesus shed His blood to take sin away. Your sin and my sin. It’s sin that separates us from God the Father, but the blood of Jesus reconciled us to God. Like the rich man, you and I have to make the choice now, before death carries us to our eternal abode. It’s an individual choice that nobody can make for you. If you reject the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then you will spend eternity in torments with Satan and with the rich man.
The prophet Hosea prophesied regarding Christ’s victory over death, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes” (Hosea 13:14).
The Apostle Paul quoted Hosea in his first letter to the Corinthians about the sting of death. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:55-58).
Jesus Christ conquered death. He shed His blood so that by faith, we will live forever with Him in Heaven.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Jesus Christ was fully God and fully human. He freely laid down His life and was crucified on the cross. He was buried in a tomb that was sealed by a heavy stone so no one could steal His body. Roman soldiers were posted to guard His grave. In spite of man’s efforts to kill Him and erase all memory of Him, those efforts are in vain. Jesus Lives!! On the third day after the crucifixion, His tomb was empty. Mary Magdalene had been to the tomb early and found the stone rolled away. She ran to tell the disciples. Peter and John ran to see for themselves.
“So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter and came first to the sepulchre. And stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him and went into the sepulchre and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead” (John 20:4-9).
The disciples had a lot to think about. They knew Jesus had died, but they had forgotten the many prophecies concerning His resurrection. Study Scripture to know God’s truth, and don’t be swayed by Satanic lies.
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
The Scriptures referred to are Old Testament Prophecies. More prophecy is being fulfilled today, and soon we will be taken Home in the Rapture, according to Scripture. Don’t neglect to study Biblical prophecy.
There’s no greater love that has ever been shown than God Himself entering His creation and laying down His life so that by faith in Him, a sinner such as I can live eternally with Him in Heaven.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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