The Father’s Love in Sending His Son

This post continues a series on The Love of the Father. Below are the prior posts.
Reasons We Struggle to Experience God’s Love
Seven Features of God’s Fatherly Love
God’s Love in Revealing Himself

There are many proofs of God’s love scattered throughout the pages of Scripture. We notice further testimony of God’s loving kindness in his mercy and gifts both in creation around us and in our lives every single day. But there is no greater demonstration of God’s love than in the Father sending his only Son to save us. If the evidences of God’s love were a mountain, with new discoveries and greater examples of his love unfolding as we climb higher and higher in the knowledge of God, at the very top would still be the costliest, most needed, and most valuable of all gifts ever given: Jesus. The gift of Jesus includes not just that he was sent (incarnation) but that he was sent with the mission of a dying on the cross in our place, taking the punishment we deserved.

The Father’s love for us is nowhere more clearly seen than in the sending of his only Son to reconcile us to himself. He sends Jesus not because we asked for help or merited such mercy, but it’s a free, unprompted, and undeserved gift.

In This is Love!

That’s why in John’s epistle, her erupts into saying, “here is love!” or “in this is love!”when he writes about the Father giving Jesus to get wayward children into his family. “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins”( 1 John 4:9-10). If there is anything a clear, inarguable act of God’s love that should calm our doubts and answer our questions about God’s love, it is in the Father’s gift of his only Son.

Every word drips with the preciousness of the gift and depth of the love behind it.

The Father sends his only Son to reconcile us to himself.
The Father sends his only Son to reconcile us to himself.
The Father sends his only Son to reconcile us to himself.
The Father sends his only Son to reconcile us to himself.

Charles Spurgeon commented on 1 John 4 with these words: “There is love in our creation; there is love in providence. But most of all there is love in the gift of Christ for our redemption. The apostle here seems to say, ‘Now I have found the great secret of God’s love to us. Here is the clearest evidence of divine love that ever was or ever can be manifested toward the sons of men.’”[1]

Don’t miss that the same Scriptures showing us Christ’s love in dying also reveal the immense love of the Father in sending and sacrificing. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). He so loved us that he gave his only begotten Son.

No verse has been placarded in more places than John 3:16 and yet somehow, we miss the particular and pursuing love of the Father as the dispatcher. The Father is the fountain of the love, Christ is the stream that carries it to us, and the Spirit is the one who opens the floodgates and pours God’s love upon us. Every time we return to the cross and find ourselves awash in the love of Christ be amazed at the Father who sends.  If God’s love for us were on trial, the sending of Jesus to rescue us at the cost of his life is the evidence in court that settles the case.

The Lie about God

Whether from the lies of the accusers or fears and deception in our own minds, Christians can act as if Jesus is the good guy who convinces the fear-inducing Father to show mercy. It’s as if we think the Father is a Zeus-like deity eager to bring down judgment and punishment on mankind that he’s fed up with, but the gentle Jesus makes a case for us and twists the Father’s arms into giving mercy. Or we might even imagine Jesus as the son who sneaks away from heaven and shows us love by dying in our place. Now the Father is compelled to become a tad bit gentler with these new and unwanted family members Jesus brought home. Of course, we wouldn’t say we believe that, but it’s how all too many people can view God the Father. 

The Truth about God

In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Father dearly wants to be in a loving and intimate relationship with us, so he sends the Son to bring us back. The Father’s original intent was to dwell with men and women as his sons and daughters on the earth (Gen. 1–3), but our sin gets in the way. And yet, the Father pursues us out of his deep desire for reconciliation, peace, and oneness. Redemption isn’t merely an act of mercy to get us off the hook for sin or to escape the horror of hell, but it’s the way God brings lost sons and daughters back home. He brings us back to himself. Charles Spurgeon explains:

“We never sent to Him; He sent to us. Suppose that, after we had all sinned, we had fallen on our knees and cried, ‘Father forgive us!’ Suppose that day after day we had been, with many piteous tears and cries, supplicating and entreating forgiveness of God. It would be great love then that He should devise a way of pardoning us. But no; it was the very reverse. God sent an ambassador of peace to us; we sent no embassy to him. Man turned his back on God, and went farther and farther from Him, and never thought of turning his face toward his best Friend. It is not man that turns beggar to God for salvation; it is, if I may dare to say it, as though the Eternal God Himself begged of His creatures to be saved. Jesus Christ has not come into the world to be sought for, but to seek that which is lost. It all begins with Him.’”[2]

The Gospel

Both the Father and the Son stagger us in the way the cross expresses their love. The Bible reminds us that the Father sent Christ for us with a full awareness of how sinful, broken, and messy we were. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Grace is not grace if it’s deserved. A gift is not a gift if it’s a wage being paid out for our work. But God’s gracious gift is amazing precisely because it is so unmerited and undeserved by us. It’s for sinners. It’s not for those good people who out there who just need a little spiritual boost to get them over the wall (as if there were anyone like that), but it’s for spiritual failures like us who need rescued. Ray Ortlund writes, “We didn’t ruin God’s plan; we are his plan, his eternal plan to love the undeserving, for the display of his glory alone.”[3]

We certainly didn’t warrant such kindness from God before receiving Christ, nor do we earn or keep it because how we act as Christians. The all-encompassing work of Christ covers our sins from the past, our sins today, and our sins in the future. There are no exceptions. No “but you don’t understand what I’ve done” and no “my case falls outside the lines.”

There is no sin too filthy to outmatch the purity of Christ’s blood. There is no one who has sinned so often or to such a degree that they’ve exhausted the infinite grace Christ purchased for them. And our badness or sinfulness doesn’t catch God off-guard and make him regret giving such a gift. It’s how messy, sinful, and broken we were—which God saw and knew fully and completely—that required and prompted such a costly but gracious gift.

God is not Santa. He’s not making a list or checking it twice where the “good boys and girls” get his gifts and the bad ones get coal. We all make the naughty list. God’s wonderful and matchless grace alone is the foundation of his gift-giving. There is no gift you will give or receive that comes close to the gift of God in giving Jesus. There is nothing more valuable. There is no gift more sacrificial. No gift more lavish and undeserved. And there’s no gift more needed or desirable. This is the greatest gift God could ever have given us, and he did so out of an amazing love for us.

God’s love shines even brighter against the backdrop of our dark and ill-deserving condition. Like a perfect parent, he wants you back not because you’ve done enough to make him proud or not embarrassed the family name, but he wants you back because you are his child. His unceasing love pursues us despite because of his fatherly love for his sons and daughters.

John Owen called this the great discovery of the gospel.[4] Without the gospel we can only think of God as offended and angered by our sin—and rightly so—but through the gospel our relationship is reconciled and changed so we can now know him as love. The Father’s gift of Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving. It not only flows from God’s love, but it enables to experience and rest in God’s love. It not only shows us God’s love, but it invites us into and secures us in that love.

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

The cross is the proof of God’s love. It’s also the proof of our sin because it shows the extent to which God must go to forgive us and redeem us. But if we ever question God’s love or wonder if he loves us, whether you think of the coming of Jesus in a manger or how that leads to the death of Jesus on a bloody cross, Jesus is the proof not only that God loves you but how much he loves you. His love is powerful and ferocious and overwhelming, and it is the cross of Jesus and the gift from the Father to us in Jesus that displays the depth of it.

Every day, the vivid reminders of our sin should push us to return to the gospel to rest in God’s grace. We rehearse the reality that what justifies us isn’t what we’ve done for God but what God has done for us. This glorious and free grace comes to us through Christ but finds its initiating source in the Father. The cross is the exclamation and the evidence of how much the Father loves you.

“How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.”[6]



Footnotes

[1] Spurgeon, C. (2014). Spurgeon Commentary: 1 John. (E. Ritzema, Ed.) (1 Jn 4:9). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] Spurgeon, C. (2014). Spurgeon Commentary: 1 John. (E. Ritzema, Ed.) (1 Jn 4:9). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Ray Ortlund, The Gospel, 42.

[4] John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, 24 vols (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, republished 1997), II:19. Owen says we have communion with the Father in his love that is free, undeserved, and eternal. We are to eye it, to receive it, and to return it as we are delighted in it. “This is the great discovery of the gospel…here he [Father] is now revealed peculiarly as love, as full of it unto us; the manifestation whereof is the particular work of the gospel.”

[5] Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Carlisle: Banner of Truth, Reprinted 2008), 2.

[6] “How Deep the Father’s Love,” by Stuart Townend https://www.stuarttownend.co.uk/song/how-deep-the-fathers-love-for-us/

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indycrowe

You can follow me on Twitter or Instagram @IndyCrowe for the short & sweet stuff.

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