“We love because he first loved us.” —John 4:19
I remember the day my dad first told me that he loved me. He sat in the worn recliner, crying. His father was dying. At eighteen, I didn't know what to say so I sat and waited. I knew that he wanted to tell me something important. I'd never seen the old cop cry and have only seen it one time since.
He told me something that his father had just told him for the first time on his seventy-two year old death bed; “I love you.” My stomach flipped, I repeated the words back to him, gave him a halfhearted hug, and walked away.
As I went off to college soon after, I heard the other girls in the dorm declaring their love for their parents on the line-demanding pay phone in the hall. These words that were so foreign to my family — forced words that seemed to be saved only for weddings and funerals.
Wanting to fit in with the others, I began to force the short little phrase into the goodbyes of my parental phone conversations. To my surprise my parents began to say it back.
It all seemed incredibly forced, but it was said nonetheless…“I love you, too.”
Things have changed since my college days. We’ve walked through more weddings and funerals, and endless amounts of weekly phone calls — all ending in “I love you.” It’s not forced anymore. It’s out of a non-solicited, genuine love.
Some of you have heard the tender words of “I love you” since the moment you caught your first breath. However, others still await the words you've longed to hear since you were a child. But as you and I walk in the shadow of the cross, we both hear the same sweet whisper from our Savior’s lips, “You are my beloved child.”
No matter how many or how few times we hear the enchanting words "I love you" here on this earth we know that there is only One that truly loves us. There is only One that can speak these words and fill our souls with a love that is pure and can never be taken back.
Christ's incarnation, life, death and resurrection were the first “I love you” spoken to this world; a gift of love from a God who longed to save us through His son.
- It was love that reduced Him to the size of a seed in His mother's womb.
- It was love that was helpless at the hands of first time parents, learning to eat, walk and speak.
- It was love that grew as a boy, being completely God and man, under the submission of sinful parents.
- It was love that perfectly served an imperfect family.
- It was love that resisted every temptation known to man.
- It was love that was falsely accused, mocked and beaten.
- It was love that was humiliated and spat upon in open nakedness.
- It was love that saved the sinner next to Him while in suffocating pain.
- It was love that was separated from His Father, void of perfect fellowship for the first time.
- It was love that united us to Himself, leaving with us the Holy Spirit so that He would still be near.
He first loved us when we had no love on our lips. He knew we’d struggle to love Him back yet He chose to love us. And now, you and I are free to say those three beautiful words, “I love you,” all because and only because He first loved us.