“‘I have loved you,’ says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’”
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all,
how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
“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
This question in Malachi asking the Lord, “How have you loved us?” directed my thoughts to the cross. Because the cross is where the love of God is most clearly on display.
The study notes in my Bible define the Greek term from which the word “propitiation” was translated. It means “a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath and turns it to favor.” This is what Jesus Christ did for us. It was the entire reason He came to earth. To be the sacrifice that bore the wrath of God, and turned that wrath to favor for us.
The God who created and owns the universe, who does whatever He pleases, chose to satisfy His justice not by declaring us guilty, but by sending His Son to bear the wrath that we deserved. So that we would only know His favor and experience the transforming power of His grace in us.
The cross equals love for us – for those who have chosen to believe in Christ, finding in Him our salvation. The horrifying agony, the torture, the disfiguring of our Savior – it is love. Because it shows us how far our God is willing to go to save us. He has spared no expense. Our redemption was costly. And God our Savior has paid that price.
There’s a line in a song by Casting Crowns that says, “If your eyes are on the storm, you’ll wonder if I love you still, but if your eyes are on the cross, you’ll know I always have and I always will.” Our lives are so quick to change, we seem to so easily believe God’s love has changed as well. But it is the only thing that holds fast.
Our circumstances will shift. Things may seem to unravel before our eyes. But the cross, its message never changes. It shouts unceasingly of the powerful, unstoppable love of God. A love that stopped at nothing to save us. A love that calls us continually to Himself. A love that will hold us firmly in His hand so that no one can pull us away or ever separate us from it.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life,
nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come,
nor height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”