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« The Glory of God’s Purpose | Main | The Depth of God’s Love »

The Strength of God’s Commitment 

There is much more to God’s love than rhetoric or even sacrificial acts.  While we take comfort in God expressing his deep love for us at Calvary, we become even more secure in our relationship with him by understanding the strength of His commitment.  The emotion of love may fuel a relationship, but it is commitment that validates the emotion.  Some observers see the widespread lack of commitment to real relationships as our society’s most egregious failure.  We witness it played out countless times, even in our personal circle of friends and family.  Spouses say they love their marriage partner, then cheat on them or reject the bonds of their wedding vows.  Parents say they love their children, but abandon them or subject them to emotional, psychological or sexual abuse.  Adult children say they love their aging parents, but then fail to take care of them or even communicate with them.  We seem to be obsessed with the emotion of love, but we invalidate that feeling by refusing to act it out.  We act like God by promising our love, but we act like the devil in reneging on our promises.

Charles Spurgeon said, “You never hear Jesus say in Pilate’s judgment hall one word that would let you imagine that He was sorry that He had undertaken so costly a sacrifice for us. When His hands are pierced, when He is parched with fever, His tongue dried up like a shard of pottery, when His whole body is dissolved into the dust of death, you never hear a groan or a shriek that looks like Jesus is going back on His commitment.”

One of the most intriguing features of the incarnation was God’s ability to feel what His created humans feel.  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15. But following this verse out to its logical end, we understand the reciprocal conclusion.  If God can feel what we feel, that means we can feel what God feels, at least as far as his humanity is concerned.  Thus, when it dawned on Him (speaking as a human) that He was about to be beaten until He looked like a piece of meat in a butcher shop, or that He was about to be unceremoniously crowned with a headband of three inch thorns, or that He was going to be pierced with spikes and gored with a spear, He must have thought about capitulation, or at least flight as an option.  This is where we measure the strength of His commitment.  Nothing—no pain, no suffering, no humiliation, no scorn, no loss—would make Him reconsider His decision to save lost mankind.  His feelings were human, but His commitment was divine!

Your relationship with Jesus Christ has a solid foundation, impenetrable walls, an indestructible roof overhead and has eternity for an expiration date.  The warranty automatically renews every morning!  (Lamentations 3:23) That’s a relationship you can count on!  His commitment was pushed to the limit and did not break.  His patience with us never runs out, despite our faults and foibles, not to mention our sins.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39

The security of this relationship was severely tested when Jesus called to His disciples from the shore of Galilee. The crucifixion was past and He had just risen from the dead.   It was an awkward encounter.  They knew who He was, but didn’t acknowledge that they knew Him.  The tension was greatest with Simon Peter because there had been no contact between the disciple and the Master since that fateful night when Peter denied Jesus.  No doubt Peter braced himself for a scathing rebuke, and a possible condemnation to pay him back for his cowardly act.  Imagine his confusion when Jesus spoke these words to him.

“Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. John 21:15-17.

Not only did Jesus continue His relationship with Simon as though it had never been interrupted, he affirmed that the seemingly feckless disciple was going to have a major role to play in the days following.  A greater illustration of the commitment of Jesus to a relationship with His disciples doesn’t exist.  This promise of security needs to resonate with us in this latter end of the church age.  If there are any conditions on eternal security, they are not the product of a vengeful God.  He has entered into a relationship with his people without equivocation.  It is a relationship predicated on an unchanging commitment.

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