Have you ever considered what is meant in scripture when it states that 'God is Love'.
The original concept of the word 'love' in this context is unconditional grace or favour toward a person or thing.
However the word when referred to God exceeds our context as the scripture doesn't just states that God loves us but rather that God is Love. God is the embodiment of Love, He is it's true definition.
The closest analogy of the divine love we have is that of a parent and child, that love is normally unconditional, we feed and care for our children even when they are obnoxious and uncaring toward us.
It is because of this link in understanding between parental love and divine love that scripture uses the concept to parents with their children to express God's out going concern for all humankind. So when we read the statement that 'God so loved the world that He give is only begotten Son to redeem us from eternal death' we baulk at the concept.
Over centuries, theologians have wrestled with how a loving God could sacrifice His own Son for the benefit of children who are alienated from Him, but today given the understanding of modern medicine this concept is not as hard to understand. Sometimes when a child has a serious illness the only way to help them is if a 'saviour sibling' is available. The necessary blood, marrow, or genetic markers can be taken from the healthy child and transfused to the sick child and in many cases this procedure is successful and the life of one child is saved by the other. The cost to the parents and to the healthy child is the pain and suffering the invasive procedures will have on the healthy child.
This was the situation our Heavenly Father was faced with when we contacted a disease called sin. The only cure was a spiritual donor, the part affected was our spirit, which was killed by sin, and we required a living spirit to allow us to come into a relationship with the Father to complete our transformation from death into life.
The problem was that as all humanity have 'sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God' there was no saviour siblings alive on the earth which would be 'spiritually' genetically suitable for our needs. That was why God send his only begotten Son. Jesus was both God and man, both human and Divine.
As a saviour sibling he could provide us with the necessary missing Spiritual DNA and in his own body he would repair the broken elements of our life.
Sometimes a sick child may need the bone marrow of the healthy child to allow it to repair the genetic fault it was born with. The removal of the bone marrow is a painful experience for the healthy child and totally unwarranted, but the needs of the ill child often dictates the suffering of the other.
The normal approach within these situation is to seek permission from the donor, especially if the donor is old enough to understand what is to happen to them and why it is necessary.
In the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to his mock trial before the high priest and the Sanhedrin council, Jesus was presented with the choice of whither or not to undergo the ordeal which would face him within the next few hours. This was the hardest choice which Jesus ever had to face within his 33 years of life as a human being on this earth. On the one hand he understood this was why he had come, as 'a lamb slain from the foundations of the world' but on the other hand he had to agree to the severity of the ordeal as a human being with all the anxiety and trepidation of the pending torture, suffering, culminating in the excruciating death of crucifixion. In the synoptic gospels the narrative of Jesus' decision to agree to the ordeal is recorded within the period of 3 prayers. In each Jesus asks His Father in Heaven if there is any other way, and God remains silent. Jesus looks to his human companions for moral support and intercessory prayer at this time, only to discover them asleep on each occasion of his return to them.
The decisions could only be made by Jesus, he reminded the armed guard from the High Priest who had come to arrest him that even 'now' he could call out to his Father and he would send more than twelve legions of angels to help him. Even as the temple guards arrest him Jesus knows that the decision to become the 'sacrificial lamb' was his alone.
Why is this so important to us? The problem that exists is that we are all born spiritually dead. We have inherited the death of Adam which he incurred before any issue from him was conceived. The children of Adam and Eve all received the curse of death from their human father and that spiritually genetic defect has passed down the human line since the fall of Adam and Eve.
We should highlight that while Jesus was fully human he was not a paternal descendant from Adam, his humanity was due to his mother and the curse of death did not pass from mother to child but from father to child. Jesus' father was the Almighty Living God and he was free of the curse of death exactly like Adam originally was. It is interesting to note that in reality Jesus was the half sibling of Adam as they both shared the same Father (God).
Through his ministry Jesus continually explained the importance of him living within us and us living within him. What he was expounding within these messages could not be understood by the populous of the multitude, and while Jesus was aware of this, he also understood that the Church would come to that understanding when they received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
So that we are fully aware of these things, lets examine the facts. Jesus was born without sin, that is to say the curse from Adam did not apply to him as he was not conceived of a human father.
Jesus was the brother of Adam as his Father was God as was Adam's.
Jesus is considered in scripture as the second or last Adam.
He is the first born of God's true children, who are without sin and alive before Him.
On the cross Jesus yielded his Living Spirit to His Father and accepted our dead spirit, inherited from Adam, to experience death in our stead.
When we understand and accept the sacrifice of Jesus for us, we receive from God the Father the Living Spirit of Jesus and are instantly restored in relationship with our Heavenly Father. Because we are made righteous, (without sin) by the indwelling Living Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit can come and join with us to teach us about our role as part of the body of Jesus which continues to be alive on the earth today.
This is the spiritual DNA which has been grafted into us, even the Living Spirit of our own Lord Jesus. The dead spirit which he took from us was able to be resurrected in his sinless body and it fulfilled it's commanded function of reconstituting the physical mortal (clay based) body to an immortal (spirit based) body and that regenerated spirit as been reserved in Jesus for us, as He sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. Our own regenerated spirit is to be returned to our mortal bodies at the resurrection of the saints as promised at the return of Jesus Christ to this earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
There are no other human beings currently in heaven other than the man Jesus Christ as our life is reserved within Him and cannot be returned to us until he calls His own spirit back from the earth to join with him at the last day. Then he will send our spirit back to us and all the dead in Christ will be raised first, but we who remain will change in the winking of a eye as this mortal puts on immortality and this corruption puts on incorruption.
It is a 'fait accompli' the operation was a success and the ill sibling was successfully saved from death by the loving selfless sacrifice of the saviour sibling. That makes the turmoil of the saviour sibling worth while and the entire family breath a sign of relief. In Heaven too, this is the case. The human family have been restored to be able to have a relationship with their Heavenly Father and the first humans to experience this are the members of the Bride who have been chosen from the redeemed humanity since the foundation of the world to be married to their elder brother, Jesus Christ. Following on from the wedding the gift of life will be made available to all the rest of humanity as a wedding gift from Our Father God and that offer is confirmed by the Holy Spirit and the Bride inviting all of the peoples of the earth to come immediately following the wedding ceremony.
We can therefore rejoice that the statement that 'God is Love' is recorded within the scriptures as it is only the love of Almighty God who could have ensure that his pronounced word that 'all should be saved' are confirmed through the gift of His Saviour Son.
William Andrews is a regular Christian preacher/speaker within churches across Northern Ireland. He lives in one of the very few dry villages in Ireland called Seskinore, has been married to Caroline for 42 blissful years and has two daughters Charlene (42) and Rachel (28). The year 2008 proved to be an exciting year for the family as Charlene got married to Dominic in September 08 and they had their first child Phoebe Rose on 30th November 2009. A second grandchild, Ruby Caroline was born on 23rd April 2013. In the middle of the Covid 19 pandemic Rachel got married to Joe on 13th December 2020 and on 18th July 2023 they had a daughter Lydia Niamh.