For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son… We all know this verse very well. But it never dawned on me that He gave His one and only son. I know that sounds obvious. Allow me to bring us on a ride He brought me through.
Since a few months ago, I have been musing over the various hurdles hindering the next generation from heading out into the field. From the many conversations I had, and a quick survey we did at P4M, Parents emerged as the most salient hindering factor.
I do want to tread carefully here and admit upfront that my thought piece is not to pin any blame on parents but to show the Father’s heart for us.
Here is the first point I am trying to drive across: have we ever considered that God, the Father, sent, His one, and only, Son?
This isn’t just God sending Jesus. This is a father sending his only child.
His. Only. Child.
For God so loved the world… the world He created. The world that has severed ties with its creator, spiralling down into a state of hopelessness. Yet in His great love He sent His only son to redeem what only He alone could redeem and restore.
He did not send grudgingly, He did not send reluctantly…He sent lovingly.
Here is the second point He whispered to me: ‘Did you know both the Father and the Son knew he would be crucified?’
Jesus came, knowing he was going to die. He knew. But he still came. The Father knew, but he still sent. And sent lovingly.
I can understand parents being concerned over their children’s safety. I am not downplaying that here. As a family we definitely do not want anyone to face danger or death. It is definitely not on our hearts as sending agencies to send recklessly, regardless of risk and danger. Yet objectively speaking…there is no certainty that the ‘children’ we send out are fortified against the possibility of death during their time out there.
But God sent knowing there is no safety, only death, for his only son. And Jesus came…knowing he would be led as a lamb to the slaughter.
And then the Holy Spirit reminded me that ‘The Lord was pleased to crush him’ in Isaiah 53:10.
I knew this verse all this while at the back of my mind but never saw the pieces coming together. How can it be that the father was pleased to crush his own son, for the sin and transgressions his son never committed. This is insane and ridiculous!
And here is my third point: it pleased the Father to crush His one and only innocent son for the sins of this world because He hates sin so much. For all the brokenness you experience, all the bloodshed across humanity, from slavery, to child soldiers, to divorce, to addictions of all sorts, it only makes sense He thoroughly hates what sin has done to His creation. It makes sense that He is pleased to crush sin.
But to crush His one and only son for the sins of the world…really?
Maybe God the father doesn’t love Jesus his son. So it isn’t that hard to crush him right?
This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matthew 3:17
And a voice came from heaven, saying, “You are My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’’ Mark 1:11
And the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form like a dove on Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son. In You I am well pleased.’’ Luke 3:22
3 out of the 4 gospel accounts tell us that Jesus is His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased.
Yet it pleased the father to crush His beloved son for our sakes.
This is my fourth point: we know that it is through Jesus we are cleansed and sanctified, that we are adopted into His family, having received the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace in Ephesians 1: 5, 7
And through the crushing of the perfect sin offering, which pleased the Father, we are adopted to be His beloved children in whom He is well pleased.
Where will we ever find such radical love?
I am completely unraveled to know the extent of His impossible love for a hopeless world. I can’t help but worship Him.
This is the final point I want to make. As I consolidated my thoughts in writing this piece, I realised how as the body of Christ, we might have misrepresented God’s heart behind John 3:16.
John 3:17 (which no one talks about) makes it plain for us that ‘… God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.’
If we are not careful, we present the good news as an eternal death threat. That hell awaits those who do not believe.
The focus shouldn’t be on the consequence, but rather on His heart. And His heart is one of reconciliation, redemption and restoration.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 is an invitation to live in His radical love.
May I suggest that the word perish is not merely death, but also the pain we feel, the hopelessness we are in. It is being away from Him, the source of life.
May I also suggest that eternal life is not just a ticket into heaven, but to be adopted into sonship, to commune with Him, to restore our relationship with Him, to enjoy His impossible love, to have life abundantly, to hold His nail-pierced hands.
His heart is to invite us to be with Him again, in eternity.
And it sure pleased Him to crush himself for us.
He gladly sent His one and only son, so that we may come home to Him again.