📷: Jasper Boer
I was blessed to grow up in a Jesus-loving home. Easter was a special time of celebration for us as it is for every God-serving family. My father – with Lutheran missionary blood in his veins – would always encourage us to be sad on Good Friday. He would play heavy classical music, composed especially to communicate the agony of Christ on the cross. Every note made one feel His anguish. Every crescendo rippled with horrible intensity. It was a day of meditating on what our Jesus had endured to set us free. Come Sunday however, the music that played would be excessively joyful and we would rejoice with it. He is risen! He is alive! Sin has been conquered! Death has lost its sting!
The victory of the cross is the centrepiece of the Christian faith. The need for it was birthed when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden. The devil had disguised himself as a slippery serpent and sowed seeds of doubt into their minds. Rather than rebuking that beastly emotion, they went with it. The doubt sprouted and sin and death infiltrated. If only they had said “No!” to the devil! If only sin had never entered! How different would this world be: perfectly pristine and void of all suffering. Yet, a question has lately sparked in my mind: If sin had never entered, if Jesus had never needed to give His life for us, would we know – really, truly ever really know – how much God loves us? When the devil tempted the first man and woman, what was it that really made them stumble? Let us read a few verses from Genesis together.
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.”’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:1-4).
What was the devil toying with here? He was bidding Eve question whether she could really trust that God wanted the best for her and her husband. “God is keeping something good from you,” was the suggestion. “God does not really love you,” was the implication. In short, the devil was making Eve doubt the love of God towards them. Doubt it she did and destruction followed.
Dear friend, God is an expert at turning destruction into the building blocks of glory. Hallelujah! He needed to redeem us and the cross was the answer. It did not only achieve our redemption, however. What it also achieved was a bold and ardent love proclamation. “God loves you!” is the message written all over that rugged cross. It shouts with violent passion: “Never doubt His love for you again!” Dear friend, maybe Adam and Eve doubted His love for them. He had created them, placed them in a garden of abundance, given them all they could ever want or need. Yet, they still mistrusted His intentions. They still disbelieved His devotion. But, humankind can doubt no longer. The cross silenced all suspicion. We only have to look at the cross and we know: God loves us. What Jesus endured to seal our salvation was the greatest display of sacrificial, unconditional and reckless love that the world has ever known. What the devil meant for harm, God turned for good. Our redemption gave Him an opportunity: He could show us, really show us, just how much He loves us. He did just that and He did it well. He gave it all. We can doubt Him no longer. Yes indeed, we are loved. We are loved forevermore!