He holds her hand, stroking the wrinkled, fragile skin with his thumb. She does not respond but he lifts her hand to his lips for a kiss anyway. In this peaceful moment before she sleeps, he remembers how her eyes once danced and her voice had a laughing lilt. She called up love in him the moment he saw her. All he could think about was how to show her his heart. In those days it was easy, when blood ran high and a look contained a whole universe. Now his heart showed up in a plastic basin in which he washed her feet, and beat in the gentle rhythm of brushstrokes through her thin, white hair. She did not know him anymore but revealing his heart for her was as essential to him as breathing. When she opened her mouth like a bird to take the spoon he offered, with an uplift of lips almost laughing, he saw the girl he married and knew he would do it all over again.
I wonder, would God do it all over again? Would He bare His heart again— naked on a cross, to be spat upon and cursed at? For that is who Jesus Christ is —God’s heart revealed. Because the full extent of God’s heart of love was revealed in Jesus, who died once for all, there is no need for the cross again. Immanuel, “God with us”, came into this world as a newborn baby and grew to be a man who walked dusty roads, ate fish by an open fire, and laughed with His friends. Every moment of His earthly life He revealed the perfection of His Father to imperfect, sinful men. But the ultimate revelation of His heart of love came on the cross, where He willingly offered His hands to the nails, His side to the spear, as a sacrifice in place of the punishment we deserved.
We are the reason He did this, because He loved us too much to leave us without hope. “But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible way – the Anointed One died for us.” ( Romans 5:8 The Voice)
There is vulnerability in a revealed heart; a possibility of having love spurned. Most human hearts know the pain of love rejected; how it wounds and hardens and is slow to love again. But what of God’s heart when He is rejected, as He was by His chosen people repeatedly? He never gave up because He knew the ultimate revelation of His heart would transcend all rejection with grace. “Grace means, first, love in exercise to those who are below the lover, or who deserve something else; stooping love that condescends and patient love that forgives.” – Alexander Maclaren
Though He knew what was coming, Jesus laid bare His heart, stooping to earth to walk, teach, show and live a perfect life, then to die at the hands of the creatures He created. But there is more! In His resurrection, Jesus reveals His deity, His eternality and His power to cleanse and redeem our hearts, giving us new life in Him.
Is it that in a willing, sacrificial act a true heart is revealed? A husband whose last days with his wife revolve around changing soiled bedding and looking into vacant eyes, loves no less because she cannot respond. Just as the heart of God was fully revealed through the offering of His Son, love given to the unlovely without expectation of return. It is called grace.
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