Once upon a time, there were two children who were precious to their Father. He doted on them and gave them everything they desired. They had love, a beautiful home, plenty of food, many friends, and were well protected. But the children were just not content. They wanted more. The Father reminded them that they had everything they could ever want there with him, but it wasn’t enough. Influenced by lies, the children betrayed their Father. They rebelled.
With a broken heart, Father agreed to let the children have their way. It wasn’t going to be easy, though, he warned them. “You will have to work for your living, you will have to earn your own way. There will be pain.”
The children left him. Father kept close tabs on his children and his heart tore more and more each time he saw them facing trouble and hardship. He grew sadder and more disappointed with each poor decision they made. He longed for a relationship with them, just like the one they used to have. But still, they rejected him.
This went on for many years. There were times when the children drew closer to Father, times when they inched closer to that decision to come home, but something always seemed to drag them back. Their pride was too strong. To have to admit to Father that he’d been right all along? To tell him how sorry they were? To ask him to forgive them? “Impossible!” they thought.
Darkness had swallowed them. They lived in the depths of despair and depravity, and embraced it. If only they knew how much Father still yeared for their return, even now! The hardships they faced and the struggles they endured seemed endless, but their stubbornness always overrode any real thoughts of Father or home. At times, they reveled in their independence. It was a horrible, twisted independence, but it was theirs. So, they suffered.
One day, Father had had enough. He couldn’t stand seeing his beloved children in such agony. Despite everything, He loved them so much!
He tracked down the children’s enemies. He met their drug dealers. He found their creditors, and their bookies. He hunted down every person the children had ever hurt, lied to, cheated, or stolen from. He paid off their debts. He spoke with authorities. He turned them in.
“How could a loving Father betray us like this?” they accused, as the authorities announced their sentence.
“Death.” It was the only just sentence for all the strife, turmoil, and violence they had caused. They cried out in fear.
The handcuffs were cold as they encircled their wrists, and Father watched them being led away with tears in his eyes. Their pain would soon end. He loved them so much!
The next day, they awoke. The small cell was bare. The sun streamed in brightly through the single high window in their cell. The guard slid open their door with a clanging of metal. “You are free to go.”
The astonished children rubbed their eyes in amazement at the guard. What was he saying? This made no sense! They had done horrible things; they had to face the consequences of all their actions this day.
He waved them through the door, “Your penalty has been paid. Your Father has accepted responsibility for all charges. He has paid with his life and you are free to go.”
“But no!” They shouted, knowing Father’s innocence, “Not Father! Please!” But the deed had been done.
And here is where our allegory breaks down. You recognize the story by now, and know the rest. That Jesus Christ died on a wooden cross all those years ago, an innocent man condemned to the harshest punishment the Roman government meted out at that time. But you should also know that the story doesn’t end there.
Because you see, Father’s love does not end with death. Three days later, He was seen as alive as you and I. God’s love overcame even the grave.
He loves us, you and me, so much that he offered the sacrifice of Himself. He paid our penalty and faced the consequences that we deserve. He died for us. The very Creator of the entire universe loves YOU enough to die for you.
It’s an amazingly difficult thing to wrap your mind around if you take the time to really think about it. It’s worth the time though, because it’s the biggest and best love story in the history of ever. It’s the real definition of what True Love is. Because He loves you so much!
Happy Valentine’s Day
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