Husbands... do you remember the first time you told your wife that you loved her?
I remember. It was the spring of 1978, several weeks before Carla and I went on our first date. Carla was in college at Hardin-Simmons University where she would soon graduate. As a music major, it was the week of her senior recital. I had travelled two-thousand miles to Abilene to look at the school that I hoped to attend in the fall, or at least that’s what I told my folks. Sitting in the lobby of her dormitory, I fulfilled my true purpose: I told my future bride that I had fallen in love with her! She smiled politely. But after her graduation she returned home to the Pacific Northwest, and we went on our first date. Three momentous weeks later I asked her to marry me. To my shock and surprise, she said yes. The rest is history! “I love you” is a phrase we have exchanged so often for forty-two years.
The word love is first mentioned in the Bible’s twenty-second chapter of Genesis. Interestingly, love is not mentioned in the Garden of Eden or in the stories of Noah. It isn’t mentioned until Abraham was over one-hundred-years old and Isaac was a young man.
It’s such a memorable story. The preacher has taught it a jillion times. It starts like this: “God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he answered. ‘Take your son,’ he said, ‘your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about’ ” (Genesis 22:1–2, CSB).
That’s the first time the word love appears in the Bible. Humm!
To grasp the deep meaning of the word love, one must consider the full story and the bigger story that is foreshadowed.
Abraham had been promised a son and an infinite number of grandsons and great-grandsons. God promised... but God was sure slow about delivering. In fact, Sarah was a wrinkled, old woman when she miraculously conceived. Isaac came, specially delivery, when mom was ninety and dad was a hundred.
Can you imagine the pride and the joy? The guys at the café howled with laughter when Abraham made the announcement. Maybe that’s why they named him Isaac... In Hebrew Isaac means laughter.
Then years later, God showed up to say, “Give him back! Take your son, the son you love, and give him back.”
You know the rest of the story. God provided a substitute sacrifice. The sinless, spotless lamb was sacrificed so that Isaac could live.
That story foreshadows the greatest story ever told. On Calvary, God gave “His only begotten son” ... His “beloved son.” God loved us so much that He sacrificed His much-loved Son, Jesus.
Love withholds nothing. Love sacrifices the best. Love costs everything.
Do you “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”? Do you “love your neighbor as yourself”? (Matthew 22:37–39, ESV).
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor