My father died recently - and his passing got me thinking: We didn’t have the best relationship.
For 16 years, we didn’t have a relationship at all, actually. He left us when I was very young.
But in 2000, he did the unthinkable. He reached out to my mom and asked for forgiveness.
And even more unthinkably, my mom forgave him.
He didn’t deserve forgiveness. And my mom certainly didn’t forgive him out of obligation.
She did it out of love.
It became evident to me that love has a beautiful kind of power to cover over wrongs and allow us to heal. And despite the tremendous amount of pain brought forth by his abandoning us and then recently his death - the forgiveness and love given to him allowed for light and life to be shown in a very dark space.
This brings me to my (obvious) next question…
Why Was Jesus Crucified for Me?
Okay, it may not be that obvious of a question to follow that story. But how my mom showed love towards my dad (when she did not have to at all and had been hurt deeply by him) got me thinking about Jesus’ motivation for going to the cross for us.
Put a little differently, why would the God of the universe, who is all-powerful, all-knowing, totally and entirely self-sufficient, allow himself to endure a brutal and publicly humiliating death for us (who have hurt and disobeyed him deeply) just to have the opportunity to accept him and be with him forever?
Because He is love, and he loves me.
Bam, done, the end. That’s the answer.
God was not bored and needed something to do.
God was not lonely in heaven and wanted some company.
God was not struggling with low self-esteem and, therefore, desperately needed praise.
God loves us so much that he gave his one and only son to be crucified for me - which is in the Bible, to be clear, not in my own opinion (bonus points for you if you realized I referenced John 3:16).
Which is really hard to comprehend, isn’t it? It is for me, at least. We’ve all likely heard how “Jesus loves you” or how “God died for you because he loves you”. But that prompts an even deeper question that I think we can avoid at times:
But, Like…Why Does He Love Me? I’m a Mess.
I couldn’t understand how God would choose to love me despite everything I had done and my current state of brokenness and sin. It took me seven years of the early stages of my walk with Jesus to figure it out.
And I finally realized it had a lot more to do with God’s character and identity than it had to do with my likeability and loveability - the same way my mom forgiving my dad said a lot more about her than what he had done to deserve that kind of love.
I believe it came down to what the Bible says about grace, mercy, and love.
God’s Lavished Grace
Grace, very simply, is undeserved favor (Titus 3:5).
Have you heard the story of Rahab in the book of Joshua? She was a Canaanite prostitute, and the Israelites were getting ready to take the promised land (Canaan). But before they took it, Joshua sent spies to Jericho. They needed a place to stay, and Rahab, hearing about what their God had already done (the plagues on Egypt, parting the Red Sea), offered them shelter and even lied to her King about them being there.
Even though she was not a follower of God, Rahab believed in their God and asked for her and her family’s life to be spared when the Israelites attacked.
And guess what God did? He showed her grace and spared her life, and even extended that grace so much that she is in the genealogy of Jesus.
Because that’s the kind of God he is. One that shows grace (Ephesians 1:7-8).
How do I know grace? Because, well, I was Rahab. I was the sinner who was sleeping around with a bunch of different men in my younger days, hearing about a God who loved me but not understanding it until he extended his grace to me. I didn’t deserve it, but it was given to me freely.
God’s Unrelenting Mercy
Mercy is forgiveness when you should have received punishment (Hosea 11:8-9).
Probably the most well-known story of mercy in the Bible is the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. A son who asked his father for his inheritance took it and spent it all partying his butt off and sleeping with prostitutes.
When he returned home to his father, his punishment should have been death, but instead, he was shown mercy and forgiven of all his sins.
Because that’s the kind of God he is. One that shows mercy (Isaiah 30:18).
How do I know mercy? When I confessed my sin of adultery to my husband, he should have divorced me. Instead, I was shown mercy and forgiven immediately.
He is Love
God is the standard of love (1 John 4:8).
Did you know that? That ‘love’ was not an idea mankind created? It wasn’t invented by Hallmark to make a quick buck every February. It is the very essence and nature of the God of the Bible.
God shows grace and mercy because it overflows from him and his love - not because it was drawn out of him because of our goodness.
How do I know God’s love? Having three children, I can understand that powerful kind of love. No matter what they do, I love them unconditionally. They didn’t have to earn the love I have for them. I love them because they are my children.
Do they sometimes upset me, heck yes, they do! In fact, right now, their rooms are a disaster, even with my month-long ask for them to clean them. But despite them not listening to me, despite them not doing what I asked them to, I still love them because they are mine.
Just as God loves me, not out of obligation, but because I am His.
Everyone God used in the Bible was a sinner. Moses, Abraham, David, Matthew, Peter, and Paul - they all fell short of God’s perfect standard. But through His mercy and grace and their willingness to repent, God still used them.
Jesus, who gave up his life willingly, who volunteered himself to take on my sins, was crucified for me.
So, Why Was Jesus Crucified For Me?
Because He is love.
And why does He love me?
Because it’s in His character to do so and because I am his.
Man, that is a powerful and personal kind of love.