We’ve been looking at what God really wants from us. We saw in part one that even in the Old Testament it wasn’t about following orders like a slave or sacrificing bulls and goats. It’s always been about other-centered love.
We already saw glimpses of this desire in the prophetic voice but that was largely missed by Israel in the Old Testament. They refused God’s offer of relational intimacy on Mt. Sinai, so instead of love (God and others) being their primary modus operandi, they were strapped with a mind-numbing total of 613 laws to micro-manage their outward behavior.
While they were delivered from slavery in Egypt, they still had a slave’s mindset. And slaves only understand commands and threats.
A notable exception to this is King David, known as “a man after God’s own heart.” But why was this so? Was it because he perfectly obeyed the Law? He was a “good boy?” Hardly! Besides being an adulterer and murderer, David was a man of war with a lot of blood on his hands. What made David a man after God’s own heart was that he was after God’s own heart!
David actually got the memo. He knew it wasn’t about outward performance. It was about the condition of the heart. He ran to God instead of away from Him, even when he was caught in his worst sins. I like how the Message Bible paraphrases it…
16-17 Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice. (Psalm 51:16-17 MSG *)
David understood that all God ever wanted from us was…us. His psalms are a testimony of this revelation. The uniqueness of David’s understanding in the time he was living in is stunning when you really think about it.
And the “son of David,” Jesus Christ, was simply taking this trajectory to its ultimate end—living in the divine dance of mutual devotion with Love, and reflecting that same love toward others.
Jesus perfectly revealed God’s true heart for the first time in human history. But this actually undermined Israel’s view of God! For instance, when quoting Isa.61:1-2 as His mission statement, Jesus reinterprets the text, purposely leaving out the retributive part of one verse (cf. Isa.61:2):
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
20 Then He closed the book…. (Luke 4:18-20 NKJV *)
The fact that Jesus left out of Isaiah 61:2, “And the day of vengeance of our God,“ was not lost on anyone. And taking this kind of “liberal” license could get a person thrown over a cliff!
This theology shift was a trademark of Jesus’ teaching and ministry, as shown in the Sermon on the Mount…
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven… (Matt.5:43-45 NKJV *)
Jesus poignantly reveals God’s heart in His lament over Israel’s refusal to be embraced by Love.
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Matt.23:37 NKJV *)
Notice that God’s desire is to “gather” and not punish. He sees us as His children (“chicks”), not slaves. Even with those who wanted Jesus killed, His heart is for restoration, not retribution. Sadly, they preferred their religious rituals and control over people instead of having an intimate relationship with God.
So, in this context, we must see Jesus’ anger toward the scribes and Pharisees as heartbroken sadness over their unwillingness to open their hearts. This unwillingness eventually led to the total demise of their Temple worship at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD, as Jesus predicted.
Jesus calls the dutiful servant “unprofitable.” Why? Because servants only do what they’re told to do; sons and daughters know their Father’s heart and do accordingly.
9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’” (Luke 17:9-10 NKJV *)
15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15 NKJV *)
The highest revelation of God is that He is love, and to know God means that you love others the way God loves them. To not love others is to not know God (1 John 4:7-8).
The bottom line is that God wants sons and daughters who, out of the overflow of love they’ve received from Him, will pour it out on others in the same measure; that we would value everyone in this world and care for the marginalized and victimized like He values and cares for them.
The more we understand God’s heart, the more we will see this paradigm throughout Scripture. Beloved, we’re not orphan slaves who don’t know what God is up to, we’re His sons and daughters! This is the purpose of the Father’s preordained plan for every human being. What’s tragic is that many won’t accept His overture of love and will choose to remain separated in their own hearts.
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph.1:4-5 NKJV *)
4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal.4:4-6 NKJV *)
Everything the Father has ever wanted from before time began was fully unveiled in Jesus Christ. He is the “firstborn over creation,” the prototype of a new breed of people (Col.1:15; 2 Cor.5:17). These are the beloved children of the light who have their Father’s eyes. They live from heaven to earth, doing good and destroying the works of darkness wherever they may go.