God’s great love and our response to it
The sacrifice of Jesus, as cruel as it was, shows God’s unconditional love for His children. And the best way for the believers to respond is to love back. That was the content of the Chief Apostle’s sermon on Good Friday.
On Good Friday, the day we commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider visited the congregation in Geneva and based his service on 2 Corinthians 5: 14–15: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if one died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”
In accordance with the liturgy, the divine service began with a Bible reading from Matthew 27: 31–50, in which the listeners were made aware of the suffering of Christ. The Chief Apostle also emphasised the physical and emotional suffering of the Son of God. The participants of the divine service understood that God loves humankind very much. “God came and became man to show His solidarity with all human beings, all people, without exception,” the Chief Apostle pointed out.
Delivered from sin
Because of His infinite love, God wants to free mankind from sin. Jesus Christ achieved this through His sacrificial death, by
- defeating evil: “He remained faithful to God to the end, and that was His victory. And thanks to this victory He was able to bridge the gap between mankind and God and opened the way for mankind to return to God.”
- showing the true nature of sin: “He loved God in a perfect manner and He also loved human beings in a perfect manner. So if we want to know what sin is, we must look to Jesus. And Jesus shows us what sin is. Every time we do not act like Jesus, every time we do not love God like Jesus, every time we do not love our neighbour like Jesus, we commit a sin.”
- forgiving sins: “He died for all without exception, and said: ‘All who believe in Me can obtain forgiveness of sins.’”
The Bible text says that Jesus died for all and that all then died. This seems confusing at first, but the Chief Apostle explained passage: Jesus brought the sacrifice, but He was prepared to share its benefits with all who believe in Him. Jesus does not demand that we be obedient unto death and without sin, “because He knows very well that we would not be able to manage that”. Faith in Jesus Christ is enough to obtain His victory. “Those who truly believe in Jesus Christ, will follow Him and will be delivered as if they had been obedient like Jesus and as if they had died like Jesus.” Here again we see the infinite love of God for His children: “God became man and was willing to be treated as the worst of sinners so that mankind could be treated as the best human being and dwell in fellowship with God.”
Faith is enough
This is what Jesus offers to all who believe in Him, the Chief Apostle said. Faith in Jesus Christ includes believing in
- His love: “Jesus Christ is not only a prophet who said nice things. Jesus Christ is true God who became man in order to prove to mankind that God loves us.”
- His grace: “The only thing that can save us is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; we are dependent on His grace.”
- His word: “Believing in the word of Jesus Christ means believing in His promise, for He said that He will return. This is true because He said so. That is why I am preparing myself and waiting for His return.”
Love is the answer
God’s love, which can be recognised in His sacrifice, must stir up a response in the believer. “This love triggers a response within me and I love Him back,” the Chief Apostle said. “And then I try to do what He asks of me. Then I want to be close to Him and become like Him; I follow His example, that seems logical.” In addition to this, we take sin seriously: “Those who love the Lord, who believe in His sacrifice, do not play with grace. They are sincere and determined to fight against sin.” And those who believe in His word, in His promise, make the return of Jesus Christ the most important goal in their lives.
In conclusion the Chief Apostle said: “We no longer live for ourselves; we live for Him who died for us. We live to love Him, we live to serve Him, and we live to be with Him forever.”