Earlier this week, as I was cutting back my rose bushes, I was reminded of the love of Jesus Christ.  As I grabbed hold of one of the branches, I felt a thorn gently touch the skin on my finger.  I immediately let go of the branch, making sure to avoid a deeper encounter with this perilous object.  The moment I let go, I thought of the crown of thorns that was placed on the head of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Here I was jerking back with disdain for these prickly branches, yet Jesus had much larger thorns driven into His scalp.  Suddenly, I was filled with a renewed sense of gratefulness for the love that He showed for you and me.  He didn’t let go.  Jesus didn’t run away from an uncomfortable situation.  He stayed, suffering through every agonizing moment.  Why?  He did it out of love for you and me.

As children, we often learn to recite John 3:16.  The scripture reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  While this verse is entirely true, letter for letter, there is another scripture reference that I feel is equally important.  I John 3:16 (NIV) states, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  Right within this single verse, we have a definition of love that transcends any that we find in a dictionary.  Love means being willing to give your life for someone else.  Now this doesn’t mean we need to put ourselves in dangerous situations just in an effort to show someone affection.  This means that we should hold others in such high regard that we would do anything for them, to help them in any way that we possibly could.

Jesus knew that His Father’s will was for Him to die on the cross.  He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for this cup to pass from Him.  But then He followed this prayer with the words, “Not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39 NIV).  Jesus did not want to suffer and die.  But He knew that His Father’s will was more important than His own.  I am also sure that God did not want to watch His only Son suffer and die.  Still, they both knew that this was what must occur for you and me to have eternal life.  In John 3:16, we see God’s love for us being shown through the gift of His Son.  Then, in I John 3:16, we see Jesus’ love for us through the gift of His life.

Think about it.  The God who created the Heavens and Earth out of nothing gives His only Son who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, just to save us from our sins.  Jesus agrees to be mocked and spit upon and abused just so we could be redeemed.  They loved us when we were still sinners.  We were unlovable.  We were nothing.  But because of the blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross more than 2,000 years ago, we became something.  Individuals who trust in Jesus Christ are now heirs of Christ, covered by His blood, bought with a price.  Our sins have been washed away and we are a new creation in Christ Jesus.  All because of the love Jesus and His Father have for us, a love that is greater than we could ever fully comprehend or imagine.

When they placed the crown of thorns upon His head, I know Jesus was in pain.  But in spite of the pain, He knew He was doing it for you and me.  Perhaps He was thinking, this is for My children.  It will be worth it all.  I know they are special in My Father’s sight and I love them just as much as He does.  I would do anything to grant them eternal life.  Jesus could have called ten thousand angels to save Him from this humiliating and excruciating death.  But His love was too great.  He persevered, knowing that each step toward Golgotha was fulfilling the will of God.  He knew that all these things must come to pass before future generations would have freedom through Christ.  He knew He had to die so that we might live eternally with Him.  Jesus was the only perfect man to walk on the face of this earth.  But He still had to die, so that we might live.  This is love.

Perhaps you are reading this thinking that no one could ever love you.  You may have done things that you are ashamed to even think about, much less talk about.  But I want to encourage you today.  No matter what you have done or where you have been, Jesus Christ died for you.  He loves you more than you could imagine.  He longs to have a personal relationship with you.  He wants you to talk to Him on a daily basis.  He wants to be a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  If you do not have this type of relationship with Jesus Christ, I invite you to repeat these words aloud, from your heart:

Dear Jesus, I thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.  I am so unworthy.  Thank you for loving me when I was unlovable.  I was like the thorns, but I know you can turn me into a beautiful rosebud, transforming my corrupt life into something beautiful.  Please come into my heart and make me a new creation.  Please forgive me of my sins.  I want to live for You.  Help me share Your love with others.  In Your Precious Name, Amen.

If you prayed these words, please send me an e-mail at jennifer@jennifercampbell.net or comment below.  I would like to congratulate you on making the best decision of your life.  I would also like to send you some sources of encouragement to help you grow as a new Christian.  If you are already a Christian, living for the Lord, I would also love to hear what God is doing in your life.

This Easter, remember to thank Jesus for giving His life for you.  He loves you so much.  Share His love with someone else today.  Invite someone to church.  Tell your coworkers, neighbors, friends, or family about what Jesus means to you.  Don’t be afraid of what they will think, as I was afraid to grasp hold of the thorny rose bush.  Jump in there and tell them what He has done for you!  He thought you were worth dying for.  Now that is something to talk about!  Don’t just go to church on Easter, but live your life in a way that reflects the love of Jesus to everyone you meet, every day of the year.  Radiate the infinite love of Jesus Christ.  He gave His life for you.  What will you give to Him in return?

In Christ’s Love,