It’s hard to fathom just how much love Jesus has for us. It just goes way, way past human love. He was willing to come to earth in human form, experience human feelings and emotions, be tempted by the Devil for 40 days, experience extreme hunger, experience disappointment and even betrayal, and on top of all that, He was willing to be beaten and to die an extremely painful death—even feeling that His Father was letting Him die alone—all because He loves us and wanted us to have salvation.
In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus told His Father, “Father, if there is any way out of this, if there is any other way to save humankind, please remove this cup of suffering from Me—please make a way of escape for Me—but if not, and if this is the only way to save them, then not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus didn’t have to suffer that horrible death. When He was taken before Pilate, all He had to do was deny that He was the Son of God and they might have beaten Him up a bit, but they wouldn’t have crucified Him. Or He could have snapped His fingers and thousands of angels would have appeared and carried Him to safety (Matthew 26:53). But He didn’t. He chose to die so that we could be saved.
The famous intellectual and former professor of Cambridge University, C. S. Lewis, said it this way: “There is a really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’—That is one thing that we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said would not be ‘a great moral teacher.’ He would either be a lunatic—on a level with a man who claims he is a poached egg—or else He would be the devil of Hell! You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: Or else a mad man or something worse.
“You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a ‘great human teacher.’ He has not left that option open to us, He did not intend to.”
Napoleon Bonaparte also rightly recognized the absolute uniqueness of Jesus, and expressed it in these words: “I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius?—Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love, and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”
Everything about the way that Jesus lived His earthly life proves something. Though Jesus performed many miracles while He was on earth—raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, and all that—it was the pure motive behind all He did that really stands out. He was motivated by totally pure and unselfish love!
You probably know the verse “the love of Christ constrains me,” but have you ever thought of what the apostle Paul was really saying? Well, the love of Christ is pretty legit! Paul was saying, “When I think of what Jesus did for me—the way that He proved His love to me by dying for me—it practically forces me to want to do whatever He asks me to do and to live the life He wants me to live, just to show Him my gratitude.”
Doesn’t that make you want to ask yourself, “What is the love of Christ compelling me to do?” Do we truly show Him on any given day that we value what He went through for us? It’s all too easy to become familiar with it, but it’s so important not to forget all that Jesus did for us and all that He went through just to prove His love to us and to make it possible for each of us to go to heaven when we die.
We’ve often heard stories or watched movies where it shows a king’s loyal subjects being willing to give their lives to defend and protect their king from harm. Jesus is the King of all kings and yet He gave His life so that we can live a better one—an eternal one.
We’re forgiven because He was forsaken.
We’re accepted because He was condemned.
We’re alive and well because He died and rose again.