He and us
Written by Reinhard Bonnke
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
When he found one of great value, he went away
and sold everything he had and bought it.
Here is a question. It sounds like a Bible riddle, two riddles in one in fact. What is the greatest thing God ever did … and could he do something greater?
Think of what God has done. He made heaven and earth. He opened his hands and flung the cosmos into existence. He “sustains all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3). He made everything. Can God make more than everything?
God gave until it hurt
Well, we ourselves make and create things. But that is not all we do. Making something is not the limit of our capabilities. We can do more than make. We can give and we can love. So can God. And he did! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). That was something infinitely greater than making the stars.
We ourselves can give but we can do even more than that: we can sacrifice. We can give till it hurts, until we actually feel the loss. Can God do that? How can God give till it hurts? How can he make a sacrifice? The Bible tells us that giving does not impoverish him. BUT … but … he did indeed give till it hurt and was impoverished. He gave so sacrificially that it became the greatest sign of love in the world. God the Father gave up his only Son. That definitely hurt.
God could not replace his Son. He could replace anything else but not his only Son. He could make another star, yes, another earth, another universe, and it would cost him nothing; he would lose nothing. But nothing could replace his Son. That Son was everything to God.
God empties the treasure chest of his love for us
Scripture sometimes uses unusual language because it is dealing with very unusual things. Some things are new in the world. One text talks about God’s “great love for us” (Ephesians 2:4) – “his great love with which he loved us” in the wording of the NKJV. What is this “great love” with which God loves us? God had a great love – Jesus Christ, the Son of his love. God so loved the world that he gave his love, his Son. That is the gift, the token, the character and the measure of his love.
When God gave his Son and his Son left heaven, all heaven felt it. He was the light. He left a shadow behind, twilight in the streets of the eternal city of God. The angels in glory saw him leave and they did not want to leave him or to see him leave them. When Jesus came to earth, he drew half of heaven with him; they went along with him to Bethlehem to see where he was going to be. They told the shepherds where he was. The angels knew that he would be a long time coming back. But there was one thing they did not know – what their beloved Lord would go through down here, the poverty, the stress, the grief, the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the vicious whips of his blood-crazy foes and that Calvary agony beyond human endurance.
However, God knew what was coming. “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Father and Son were one, and that coming, that giving, that love, that suffering, that sacrifice, that Cross, added up to the greatest thing God ever did or ever could do.
Jesus told us this truth in a parable. A merchant found one fine pearl that was worth a phenomenal amount and sold everything else he had to raise enough money to buy it (Matthew 13:45-46). This is a picture of God emptying the treasure chest of his love for us.
We were no bargain. We did not look very much like a valuable jewel. Yet he took us with all our worthless baggage, rottenness, debts, nastiness and wickedness. He drew us to himself, ignoring everything in us that was foul and corrupt. Then like a heavenly valet, he cleaned us up, gave us a complete makeover, clothed us in righteousness, girdled us with immaculate grace and made us fit to enter the presence of the King in his beauty. That effort left him soaked in his own sweat and blood on the trodden grass of Gethsemane. Then finally that awful hour of devilish agony, hanging like a rag nailed to a tree.
We cannot fully grasp the dimensions of that gift. That is the deepest mystery of all mysteries. We can see the Cross; we can see the figure on the Cross. But what was really going on? This was the hour of reconciliation and the hour in which evil was defeated. Something transpired between Jesus on Calvary and God on the throne. “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19). What that was really about cannot be understood by mere mortals. It went on within the Godhead. To share his experience surpasses the boundaries of the human mind. Nobody knows what the Cross meant to the Father, but it changed everything.
What a drama! Everything he did was for us – with no benefit to himself. He was born for us. He lived for us, was tempted for us, baptised for us, preached, taught and healed for us, suffered for us, died for us, rose for us, ascended to God for us, and he is coming back for us. Not for one moment did he do something for himself; every moment was a golden gift to us.
People have the blind audacity to ask, “What has God done for me?” What a ridiculous question – God has done everything. For a start, he gave his life for us. We exist by his care; our every breath is a sign of just that. God is perfect and cannot forget us. He esteems us beyond price. He made us for love, for himself, and that is why he came to save us. He wrote the contract of our redemption with a pen dipped in the blood of his own Son. It is absolute and sure.
This is something so vastly important that everybody needs to know about it. We are all as much involved as in a family. What Jesus did on the Cross is not a fact to be brushed aside. We may as well ask what our mother has got to do with us. We may as well ignore the sun in the sky.
The Cross is central
The Cross is central to anything we ever say about God. The God we know is identified by the Cross. If Christ died for everyone, then everyone should be told about it. Salvation is perfect and complete. But it needs to be applied like a cure for sin. The gospel cannot operate where it is unknown. The Good News is not news if it is not published. We are his reporters, his publishers and his newsagents.
It was a big thing when Jesus came from heaven to earth and it was a big thing when he went back. But he left earth, his world, for us, the world of his nativity and work, where his blood stained the ground. He returned to the seat of cosmic power and took his place on the throne of the universe. With what triumph! What songs of victory. What a gala day in heaven! What a blaze of glory, what exuberance! The angels, pure spirits as they are, flames of fire, surely danced with joy over their Lord’s return from the field of battle. Wonderful! But why? What was it all about? Ephesians 4:10 and 4:8 says that he “ascended higher than all the heavens … and gave gifts to men”. That was the importance of Christ’s ascent to the seat of power – to give us power, power to win our race.
Because … without us, God’s finished work is not finished. If the world is to be saved, God calls us to save it. God has done his part and now we must do ours. His hopes rest on us. Without us our generation will die in their sins with the remedy close at hand, like a bottle of medicine that people have overlooked. Ours is the astonishing privilege of telling people what is in the bottle and encouraging them to drink.