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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jackie Minor

THE MAGNITUDE OF GOD'S LOVE. Reflection on Easter and the Educator

Years ago I arrived early in the morning to work with a group of elementary educators.  The office was bustling as usual when two young girls entered. They appeared to be sisters and were apparently well-known to the office staff. Neither said a word; they just sat their small bodies in the big adult chairs as if this was routine.  I felt myself drawn to them, and so I turned and smiled.   Instead of bright eyes and reciprocal grins, I was met with blank faces and sad looks. It broke my heart.  I silently wondered why two young girls, were so unhappy.  I resisted the urge to run over and give them a hug. I wanted them to feel love, to know they were special. All I could do was pray their teachers would do this for me.


I share this story to remind us of the magnitude of love – how being loved lays the foundation for everything else in our lives. I would contend the degree to which we feel loved impacts our thoughts, actions, decisions, and desires. It may not be all that obvious until we encounter someone who feels unloved or we happen to feel unloved ourselves.  We all have an innate need to be loved, and when this need isn’t met, we find ourselves feeling a bit empty and sad like those sweet little girls in the office.


This is what Easter is all about. God created you to love you.  He never wants us to feel unloved. While we all want to be loved by friends and family, God’s love is the only love that can satisfy our deepest longings and sustain us during tough times. I’m not sure any of us can really grasp the magnitude of His love. If we did, it would change everything.


We often gauge how much someone loves us by what they do for us. How do I know my husband loves me?  He listens to me. He thinks of me first. He puts my needs ahead of his own. He provides for me. He puts up with my weaknesses. He says I’m beautiful when I have no make-up on and my hair is in a ponytail. Now, that is love! I say that jokingly, but after 41 years of marriage, I never question his love for me. Why? Because of his actions.


While this love is so significant in my life, it pails in comparison to God’s love for us. How do I know?  Because of Jesus’s actions. Because of Easter. One of the most difficult passages to read in the Bible can be found in Isaiah 53, the prophecy of the Suffering Servant.  I would encourage you to take some time this week to read over and meditate on this entire chapter. How did Christ demonstrate his love for us? Here are a few descriptions from this passage.


Surely he has borne our griefs

    and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned - every one-to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:4-6 (emphasis mine)



If you have attended a few Easter services over your lifetime, I am certain you have heard these verses read and preached. We don’t want to let the familiarity of this passage wash over us and lose sight of the incredible acts of love Jesus chose to do for us. If we can begin to grasp the magnitude of this love, Easter will take on new meaning, and His love will find its way into our offices and our classrooms.


I recently listened to a sermon by Tim Keller entitled, Pierced for Our Transgressions. In this sermon, Mr. Keller asked the question, “Who or what could have been strong enough to bind the Maker of the Universe to the cross? Nails? NO! Nothing but love.”  Jesus’s actions were not only motivated by love but were also voluntary.  In John 10:18 Jesus made it clear that no one could take His life from Him.  He alone had the authority to lay it down, but His voluntary act of love came at great cost.


Isaiah said Jesus had to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows.  What does that mean?  The Hebrew word for “borne” means to lift off and take away, and “carried” means to bear a heavy load. Think about that for a moment.  Jesus took all sin, sickness, and pain off of you and me. He lifted it from us, put it on Himself, and carried it to the cross. I can’t imagine the weight of the load, and He did it all for love.


Jesus did more than just carry a heavy load. Isaiah tells us He was also pierced, crushed, and disciplined. It’s hard to imagine the severity of these words, but we get a little bit better picture when we jump back one chapter to this verse in Isaiah.


But many were amazed when they saw him.     

His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human,

and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.

 Isaiah 52:14


My mind cannot imagine what kind of love would go through such agony and torture, especially for those who would turn away and reject Him. I learned something more that leaves me even more astonished.


When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,

he will be satisfied.

And because of his experience,

my righteous servant will make it possible

for many to be counted righteous

for he will bear all their sins.

Isaiah 53:11 (emphasis mine)

 

Did you catch it? When Jesus looks back on all He went through, all He lost, and all He suffered, He will be satisfied.  In other words, Tim Keller says He will look at you and me and say, “They were worth it!”  Let that sink in. Jesus says YOU WERE WORTH IT ALL!


Would our lives be different if we could somehow grab hold of the magnitude of God’s love for us? Would it change our thoughts about ourselves and others?  Would it influence our words and actions? Would we seek to know Jesus more? Would we spend more time in God’s Word?  Would we pray more frequently? Would we obey out of desire and not duty? Would we forgive those who have hurt us? Would we trust Him in the midst of life’s storms?  The obvious answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES! It would make a difference!


Easter isn’t just a holiday to celebrate by going to church, having Easter egg hunts, and fellowshipping with family.  Easter is so much more.  Easter is not only knowing we are loved but also embracing God’s love in the depths of our being, never questioning it, allowing it to change us. Somewhere along the way, we forget God’s love isn’t something we have to earn.  God’s love is a gift because of Jesus. This is what Easter is all about.


People today are yearning for love that is real, tangible, and genuine. As Christian educators, we have the privilege of sharing God’s gift of love with children and adults every day. I realize we may not be able to tell them about Jesus, but we can certainly show them Jesus in our words and deeds! It might mean we have to bear some burdens, forgive wrongdoings, or make some sacrifices. However, when we grasp how much we are loved by Christ, we will want nothing more than to share that love with others.  These verses say it better than I can.


God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love- not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.


 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us and his love is brought to full expression in us.  1 John 4:9-12


I can’t help but think back to those sweet little girls in the elementary school office. I think of them often and pray that the love of Jesus has found its way into their hearts. I pray the same for you.  Do you know how much you are loved? Take time this Easter season to meditate on what Christ did for you. Think about His love. Confess it out loud. Embrace the magnitude of His love, and then don’t keep it to yourself. Show others the true meaning of Easter!

 

Note: If you have read this blog and are sensing His love, don’t let another Easter go by without accepting Jesus’s gift of love. Click on any of the links below to learn more!

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