His Great Love # 3
God's Love Embodied In His Son, continued -
Oh, but you say, there is another side to the Old Testament. There is the awful story of God's wrath. Ah yes, but what is God's wrath? Rightly understood, wrath, anger, only exists because of love! There is no such thing as anger or wrath if there is no such thing as love. In the fallen creation, if we are angry, it is so often because so some self-love. There is very rarely that crystal-pure essence of wrath which is utterly selfless. We are angry because in some way we are cheated or defeated or robbed; something is happening to us, and we are angry. There is very little of that pure wrath of God in this creation, that which is apart from any selfish consideration whatever, when we are angry in a disinterested, detached way, angry with pure anger. If you can get that, then it is that because you love so strongly, therefore you hate so strongly. Wrath is only the other side of love. If God is angry, it is His love in reverse expression. That comes out at the end of the Bible. It is seen to be anger because of all that Divine love means - the very nature of God.
But to return to our point. The issue of the Old Testament is - "God so loved the world that He gave His ...Son". The Scriptures have all been pointing to that, but it is love that is behind all. The Lord Jesus is the succession of all that has gone before showing the love of God.
The Love Relationship of the Son to His Father
You can see Him in His relationship to God His Father. Oh, if the Lord Jesus does reveal God, how does He reveal Him? Well, I do not see any fuller way in which He reveals Him than in terms of love, through His devotion to the One Whom He always calls "My Father." The Father says, once, twice, "This is (Thou art) My beloved Son" (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11). He could have said, "Thou art My loved Son." It is not making something out of nothing. Look at some words with that little prefix. "Betrothed" - that is your relationship of a troth to a person. "Besiege" - the direct, immediate relationship of an investing army to those invested. "Beseech" - there is something more in beseeching than just asking. When you beseech, you give yourself, you pour yourself out, you let yourself go, you hold nothing back. And so, "Beloved." The point is that God has come into an immediate heart-relationship with this One, He has taken Him into His heart, He has related to Him in terms of love. His relationship with this One is not just that He loves Him, He has given Himself to Him. He is "Be-loved!"
See the relationship of the Lord Jesus to God's will. Oh, yes, it was a blood conflict, even unto death, sweating as it were great drops of blood, but His love for the Father bore Him through. "The cup which the Father hath given Me,shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11). "Father...not My will, but Thine, be done" (Luke 22:42). This love relationship to His Father went down so deep, was so tremendous. Words with us have become so common as to be robbed of a great deal of their strength. I was going to say, it was terrific, that love for the Father, when you see what the Son went through. Do you notice that when He had fought through the battle, that battle of His relationship with the Father in terms of love, from that moment He was so calm and steady and tranquil that everything was going down before Him? The battle is over, the situation is established. They come to take Him, with torches gleaming in the night; with sound of hurrying feet, of swords being drawn from their scabbards; a traitor betraying a leader, a traitor who has said, "I know where He goes, I know because I have been with Him, I will take you to Him; and in case you might mistake one of His disciples for Him, I will give you a sign as to which is He, I will kiss Him." Thus they came, with all the hatred that lay behind on the part of the High Priest and the rulers; and He is as steady as a rock, they fall back from before Him. "Whom seek ye?" "Jesus of Nazareth." "I am" - and "they went backward, and fell to the ground." Again He says, "Whom seek ye?" "Jesus of Nazareth." "I told you that I am He"; "if you seek Me, here I am; take Me, let these others go free." See how tranquil, steady, rock-like, He was right to the last, before the rulers, the High Priest, before Pilate. Oh, there is something about triumphant love that settles a great deal of conflict and hate and fever and anxiety, and makes you very steady. That was the Lord Jesus.
The Son's Love Relationship To His Own
See His relationship to His own. It is summed up in one word - "having loved His own that were in the world. He loved them unto the end" (John 12:11). Perhaps He loved Judas. You notice that when Judas led that band to Him, He did not look at him and say, "Traitor! You scoundrel! You wicked man!" He said, "Friend!" I think that was enough to send Judas to suicide. "He called me friend, and yet He knew what I was doing!" He loved His own to the end. And knowing ourselves, shall we not agree that there is a mystery about this love? Oh, yes!
I am going to stop there, because at that point you have to go right on from the persons here in the days of His flesh, through the rest of the New Testament, and all the teaching that was given to the Church, and so at length to the Revelation, and you find that it is all turning round this one point - the love of God. I think I have said enough to give some ground at least, for believing it is true. Oh, there may have been times in your experience, and there may yet be - if you have not yet come there, do not worry, go on with the Lord - when you wonder whether you will ever again speak about the love of God. Everything seems to argue to the contrary, and satan has struck such a blow as to have made your faith rock. What the Lord is, I think, trying to say to us is this, that that may very well be just the way to a new discovery that it is all in love, and just the opposite to what the devil is trying to say. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth" (Heb. 12:6).
Well, to sum all that up again, to the center of this universe is a heart. That is God's side. Our side has yet to be contemplated. But oh, it is wonderful, inexplicable love, and I, for my part, am one of those who believe that if only we could present the love of that aright, we should never have to speak of the wrath of God in order to persuade men - and even if we did, we should have to show that His wrath is love in reverse.
(continued with # 4 - God's Beloved