June 23, 2016
Last week, I began a review of John 3:16, the most memorized passage in the scriptures. It begins with: For God so loved the world. This opening phrase makes us think about the word “so” and the extent of the “world” that God so loved. I think the answers are self-evident. This so much love was for the whole world.
And what did this so much love produce? For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.
This so much love produced a gift – he gave. The word “gave” is used 633 times in the NIV translation, once in the well-known Parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32. When the younger son gets his inheritance and then wastes it in wild living, he hired himself to a citizen of that country. “He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything” (Luke 15:16). These words are certainly sad: “no one gave him anything.” The lost son was lonely, hungry, and desperate, and no one gave him anything.
I am writing this devotion while attending the Montreat Music and Worship Conference, and currently I’m in the Chapel of the Prodigal on the Montreat College campus. The fresco in the Chapel called “Return of the Prodigal” is straight in front of the me.
It shows the prodigal returning home where his father welcomes him and has compassion for him. Notice how tired and worn the son is. Jesus tells us that the “father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). This compassion, this love is complete and full. The father gave himself to his son.
Now take a look at the fatted calf being prepared at a distance. Look carefully. The artist, Benjamin F. Long IV, helps us know the extent of this love. Do you see the cross?
It’s the same way God gave to us. He sent his one and only Son to the cross.
Dear Lord and Father: teach us about the extent of your love for us. Help us to know about your compassion for us, especially when he are tired and lonely and desperate and afraid. We come to you ready to receive. In the name of Christ, we pray. Amen.