The most powerful message ever preached was from Christ’s pulpit of love—the cross. From it we hear, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). From it we also hear an even deeper explanation of its tacit proclamation: “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (Jn 14:31).
This was the greatest reason given for His willful subjection to betrayal, Satan, the power evil, and the violent hatred of sinful men that would soon befall Him. While the “ruler of this world” will appear to be “ruling” on that fateful night (Jn 14:30), Jesus assured His eleven trouble-hearted disciples that indeed He was the one in control of the situation (Jn 14:31). He was walking into the darkest of all storms, the greatest of all evils, the deepest of all pain, to show the world that He loves the Father. This love is the bedrock of our salvation.
This day, I pray that you would meditate on that great fountain of your salvation, namely Christ’s love for the Father. When you fail to love God perfectly, look to the One who does and thank Him for His substitution.
The subject of so many of our hymns and spiritual songs are centered on Christ’s love for us. This indeed is a precious truth that we scarcely appropriate in our senses. I dare say that we who have some sense of our own sin more often feel lost than we feel loved. Still this is an irrefutable grace, one that the repentant believer can find great comfort in, that Christ’s sacrifice was a demonstration of God’s love toward us (Jn 15:13; Rom 5:8; Gal 2:20; Eph 5:2)—but even this is not the deepest anchor of our salvation.
We render that grand dictum, “the chief end of man is to glorify God,” meaningless if we then think that the chief end of God is to save man. We are not truly God-centered if we believe that God is man-centered.
According to popular evangelical thought, we might expect Jesus to say that “[I go to the cross], so that the world may know that I love you” (Jn 14:31). But instead, His highest hunger, His deepest desire, His most pervasive passion is the demonstration of His love to the Father. He willfully emptied Himself, “and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8)—so that the world may know that He loves the Father.
The only perfect man was God-centered. His heart beat for God. He told Judas to do quickly what he was about to do (Jn 13:27), and not long after urged the remaining disciples to rise and head to the place of His betrayal (Jn 14:31)—not to encourage the evil, but to show how earnest He was to demonstrate His love for the Father.
“The love relationships within the Trinity,” says Carson, “are logically prior to the love of God for the world.” To us, the cross is Christ’s demonstration of His love for us. To Christ, it is first His demonstration of His love to the Father. It has been said that we look at the cross and see the sin offering (what the cross has wrought for us). Christ looked at the cross and saw the burnt offering (what the cross wrought for the Father).
In the wisdom of God, the cross becomes Christ’s pulpit of love: proclaiming to the world the perfect love of the Son to the Father. A love designed to overflow for the atonement of poor helpless sinners, without making them the chief end of God. We are perfectly loved through the perfect love of the Son to the Father. We do not always feel it to be true, but feelings are not an accurate measure of reality.
So today, when you do not feel the power of this love, set you mind on this: The Son’s love for the Father and the Father’s love for the Son is unfailing, all-powerful, passionate, everlasting, and perfect. We are redeemed by a love that we have not achieved, nor can sustain. Our life and eternity is altogether different because of this. This is what matters most today.
When you fail to love God perfectly, look to the One who does and thank Him for His substitution. This is the message from Christ’s pulpit of love.