My mother taught this hymn to my brothers and I when we were little ones and I remember singing it with them even before I joined Sunday school. Never, at that time, did I reflect on or truly realised just how much deep Jesusâ€™ love for the world runs.
As I grew older, I began to understand that there is no greater proof of this love than when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave his life for us. He assented to Godâ€™s will and descended from heaven to live upon this earth as an ordinary man, to be rejected by people in his hometown, taunted, tortured, nailed to a cross and left to die a painful, slow, death.
It was Jesus who said, â€œGreater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends.â€
His own love, however, went much further than this. He laid down his life for his enemies as well as his friends. Imagine the torturous agony Christ must have endured when nailed to the cross. This was the price he paid to die for our sins.
But so great was his love even for those who caused his excruciating painâ€”those who nailed him to the cross, thrust a spear into his side, mocked him, spat in his faceâ€”that in the midst of this inhuman torture he prayed, â€œFather, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.â€
Referring to this prayer, Scottish satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher during the Victorian era Thomas Carlyle, said, â€œThe sublimed words that ever fell from human lips.â€
Human love is often conditional. If we are what others want us to be and do what they want us to do we are loved. If not, we are often rejected. Fortunately, Godâ€™s love is never conditional. It is never based on who we are or what we doâ€”good or bad. He loves us simply because we are his creation. Which is why he gave up his only son to die for our sakes. (John 3 vs 16).
To a lot of us, Easter conjures up a few images; intense sadness, bloody torture, three wooden crosses. It brings to mind unwavering faith, salvation, trust, a fulfillment of Godâ€™s plans for us and steadfast love.
The greatest of these, though, is probably love. The love that God and Jesus Christ had for you and me.
May we reflect on this and spread the love as we celebrate Easter Sunday today.