In his recent book, The Road to Character, David Brooks observes,
For many people, religious and nonreligious, love provides a glimpse of some realm beyond the edge of what we know. It also in a more practical sense enlarges the heart. The act of yearning somehow makes the heart more open and more free. Love is like a plow that opens up hard ground and allows things to grow…
Love. When we stop and reflect on life, most of us acknowledge our need for love – be it marital love, familial love or filial love. But even then we are not satisfied for long, for we know that this kind of love will never satisfy the depths of our soul. Nor will it last.
Douglas Coupland in his Life After God confessed:
Now—here is my secret. I tell it to you with an openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again, so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words. My secret is that I need God—that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love.
Consider Peter’s words in his First Letter:
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory Life After God.
Notice the words, the grace that was to be yours… It is the promise of God’s love. It is a love that is humbling and disturbing, for God’s love is unmerited on our part and costly on God’s.
God’s love involved the greatest sacrifice of all – the pure for the stained, the powerful for the weak, the glorious for the inglorious. As Peter tells us here, God had long planned to do what he had to, to reveal a love that is far beyond our imagination, a love that would rescue us from his just condemnation of our sin.
Notice how Peter puts it. He tells us that the prophets of old anticipated God’s grace, his act of love, and that the apostles and the gospel-preachers proclaimed it. God’s action in and through his eternal Son was developed over centuries. What the prophets of old searched and inquired about concerning God’s Messiah and his suffering, has now been announced through the gospel.
God’s love and the salvation he holds out to us is found in the sufferings and subsequent glory of the Messiah. Jesus is his name; Messiah or Christ is his title. His sufferings and his subsequent glory have made our rescue possible. As Peter goes on to write in chapter 2:24, Christ’s sufferings were sustained when he bore our sins in his body on a tree. Messiah’s ‘glory’ occurred when God raised him from the dead and gave him a position of honor and power.
Two great themes that bubble throughout the Bible are the ‘sufferings’ and the ‘glories’ of the Messiah. Isaiah, Jeremiah and other prophets had important things to say to their generation, but ultimately they were speaking about the coming of Messiah and the unfathomable blessings he would bring. The Old Testament prophesied the Messiah, the New Testament proclaims him.
No wonder John Newton could pen the words, Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me….
When our own faith is awakened afresh to the reality of God’s love – a love that is deeper and more satisfying than any human love – we will surely want to live in it and live it out. Indeed, when we experience the riches of God’s love we will want to do great things for him.