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Our culture packages love in jewelry commercials, flower bouquets, and boxes of confections. Celebrities pair up and break up with such regularity that weekly magazines and gossip websites thrive on the intrigue. Contemporary romantic comedies promote an if-it-feels-good-it-must-be-love mentality that leaves many moviegoers feeling empty—especially when their real life can’t compete.
And maybe that’s where you are. Maybe you feel dead to love. If so, perhaps it’s because you’ve been swindled.
Love—the kind that’s real—doesn’t come gift-wrapped on Valentine’s Day. It’s not the momentary glow of a fresh relationship. It’s not the reuniting of two characters in a sappy movie.
No, real love is explained in the Bible. Real love is selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional. Jesus taught His disciples about love
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)
By this we know love, that [Jesus] laid down his life for us. (1 John 3:16 [ESV])
In our self-indulgent world, a love so sacrificial and selfless may sound like some impossible ideal—some unreachable gold standard of what love could be—but it’s not. It really happened, and it happened for us.
You may have learned from experience that what our world calls love often comes conditionally. If you mess up, it’s gone. If you don’t pay the cost, it evaporates.
But that’s not the real thing. Real love endures. Real love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. Real love doesn’t seek its own. Real love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4–7).
And there’s Someone who loves like that. He gave up more riches than you could imagine to come on a rescue mission. Although He didn't deserve it, He was betrayed, whipped, and beaten to fulfill that mission. Soon after, He died by one of the most painful forms of execution that humans have ever invented. He loved us and “gave His life a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6).
The Rescuer—Jesus—died for love. He lived entirely without sin, yet He walked up a hill in Israel 2,000 years ago and sacrificed His life to save sinners from God’s wrath—the punishment we deserve for our rebellion (Romans 5:9). He didn’t put stipulations on His love, such as waiting for us to clean up our act first (Romans 5:8) or only caring for the “best” of mankind (1 Corinthians 1:26). He went all in because He wanted to save us.
Three days later, Jesus rose to life just as He predicted, proving He is the Son of God (Matthew 12:40; Revelation 1:18). He proved that He can indeed give us new life.
The Bible tells us God is love (1 John 4:8) and beautifully summarizes what He did:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)