God asked Abraham to show his love by returning his Son Isaac to Him. Father and son were carrying wood and fire up the hill of Moriah and Isaac asked, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burned offering? The father answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burned offering, my son. And the two of them went on together” (Gen. 22:6-8). On an enormously larger showing of God’s love for man, Jesus declared, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). John the Baptist pointed at Jesus and proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). Pilate had the final say, “Behold the Man,” you are sacrificing (Jn. 19:5). “He was divine in nature, but did not insist on remaining equal with God; but, he emptied himself of his divine form and took on the lowly human form as a servant. He was born like any other man and humbled himself by being subject and obedient even to death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6-8; DAK).
Life began with God and it ends with God. It is spirit or breath that cannot die. “And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (Jn. 6:63). “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:25). “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6).
Jesus did what he had to do. He brought grace and truth and paved it with love (Jn. 1:17), and both are gifts of God that man can claim. Grace is the truth that God has given man a second chance. Far more than that, grace is the proof that God loves the world so much that He sent of Himself His only begotten Son to show man what love is. Love is the arm of God’s grace and truth reaching out to man. That is why Jesus represented God as a Father that anxiously embraced his lost son. But, the straying Prodigal had to repent and return home to the Father (Lk. 15:21-24).
Jesus, after He shared his last meal with his disciples told them, “A new commandment I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, and so you must love one another” (Jn. 13:34). Jesus also hinted at a new covenant. “During the Last Supper, he declared, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For, I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you" (Lk.22: 15-20).
Part of the prayer that Jesus taught his disciple was, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:10). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 7:21). Here is the key, “Anyone who breaks the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:19). The kingdom was not readily available. In addition to praying that God would send it, man had to search for it. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt. 6:33). Yet, to the disciples, it was handed to them as a gift. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Lk. 12:32).
The physical Churches all anchor their reason for being on Jesus’ promise to Peter, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loose in heaven” (Mt. 16:18-19). In reality, the binding is similar to a union between a man and a woman.
Jesus made some bold and provocative personal Promises, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live, even though he dies, he will live nevertheless, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (Jn. 11:25-26). “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live” (Jn. 14:18-19). “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (Jn. 14:1-3). “I promise you, I will be with you always, to the very end of the ages” (Mt. 28:20). There are many more promises Jesus had in store for his followers. We shall study them in this and other articles. Before we celebrate our good fortune, we might examine what it cost Jesus to secure for us the Promises.