I John 3:16 “This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us.” (HCSB)
If we were to get underneath all the things that people are doing, if we were to peel back all of the layers of motivation we would get to one thing, and that is that people are seeking to know love. You see we were made to be loved. He died for you so that He could enjoy and be with you! The cross of Christ is the only place where we can see true love because that is where our perfect lover shows and gives Himself to us. Yes, I know we often hear that we were made to love in a cheap and shallow way, and this is true but it does not set aside the greater reality that we were ultimately made to be loved. To desire to be loved is to be human. But where can we find this love that we crave and strive for so desperately? John tells us that we have come to know love primarily in death. You may be thinking I will come to know love when I become a better person who receives love and approval on the basis of what I am doing and becoming. No! You have come to know love not by being better and getting the stamp of approval on your betterness, you have come to know love in Jesus dying on a cross for your best! You may think that you will come to know love when God makes you more and more of a holier, happier person, yes that’s it, the more I can be pleasing to God the more I will know His love. No! You have come to know love how? In that He died under the wrath of God for you as His archenemy. You may think God will prove His love to me by giving me the spouse I want, by giving me the lifestyle I want, by giving me the health I want, by giving me the job I want. No! You know the love you crave once for all in the God-man Christ Jesus dying on a cross for all of your sins and burying them in the abyss of His blood. You may think I know how I will know love, by loving God more because of His love, yes that’s it, it’s all about loving Him more due to His love for me. Really? Can’t you just allow God to love you on a cross? Do you have to make your response to His love the things you do the way you know love? No! You know love in that He laid down His life for you, period.
You may say, “Ok I see what you are saying, we have the love we crave in a dying, wrath-bearing Savior.” But why is this the ultimate way I know love, why can I look here always when I am craving love? My dear friend, it is because only in Jesus’s giving His all for you do you know love. You deserve to die, you deserve to suffer, you deserve to be punished and yet the sinless Son of God said I will take everything that you owe and I will give up my entire life to make it right. Jesus did not send us a life boat, He did not send us a ladder, He did not give us a map to save us; Jesus sent Himself to be drowned for us, lost for us, crushed for us. He came to die our death! He did not die to save people who did bad things to other people, He came to die for people that have spent their lives trying to dethrone and destroy Him! He did not lay His life down for people because of what they could and would do for them, He died for people who were helpless, hopeless and could do nothing for Him, He loves us because He simply does! Why do we know love in Jesus laying down His life? Simply because it is only in Jesus dying for us that He gives us Himself! A better marriage does not give us Christ, laws and advice does not give us Christ, a better job and healthier body does not give us Christ, more money and a different life situation does not give us Christ. Only Jesus laying down His life gives us Christ! This is how we know love because the most precious and valuable and delightful thing you could ever have is given through a cross. True love gives that which is best and since Jesus is best and He is ours in His death for us there is no place where we could no love like this! Yes! I am loved unceasingly by Christ because His death has removed all the barriers for Him to love me. Yes! You are loved unconditionally no matter how miserable or sinful and how much you fail in life because of the greatness of Jesus’s death making full payment for all you owe. Yes! you are loved passionately and personally because He gave His life for us; He did not die simply to give us heaven and provide forgiveness, He laid His life for us, the text says! He died for you so that He could enjoy and be with you! The cross of Christ is the only place where we can see true love because that is where our perfect lover shows and gives Himself to us.