What is Love? While attempting to understand and explain God’s love, I found that His love is so immense, it can tear down great barriers in your life. His love will transform you. God’s love is so massive, it will wreck you the moment you understand it. Arguably, the most known bible verse in the entire world is John 3:16.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
This verse is so common and overused that we miss its underlying meaning. The love of God is so great that he sent Jesus Christ to humanity to save us from eternal death. Jesus, who lived a perfect and sinless life so that you and I might have a way back to God’s presence. This is exactly as God designed it from before the foundation of the world. This act only scratches the surface of God’s love. When He created and designed the very details of us humans in His likeness and image, He made us with the capacity to love as well.
In the physical world, we sometimes lose sight of what it means to love. What does it mean to love? What is Love? John 15:13 says “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends“. Jesus did this exact thing. He laid down His life for you and I. The Bible says that there is no greater love. 1 John 4:7-19 is a powerful passage. The eighth verse says “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love“. I think it’s fitting that this passage of scripture was written by the beloved disciple, John. You see, God wants us to understand His love above all other things.
There is a great explanation in the scriptures about the importance of love and its one that is more practical for us. It’s found in Chapter 13 of the 1st book of Corinthians. This chapter is also known as the “Chapter of Love”. Paul explains that we can be so enamored with things like the gifts of the Spirit, which can be a spiritual giant, but without love, these attributes mean absolutely nothing. Jesus was once asked by the crowd what the greatest commandment of all was. Matthew 22:35-40 gives the account.
35 Then one of them, [which was] a lawyer, asked [him a question], tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which [is] the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
“On these two commandments hang all the Law”, Jesus said. Notice that the beginning of both commandments starts off with, “Thou shall love”. These important commandments start with the fact that we need to love. Do we, in fact, love? Have we shown God’s Love to someone? Anyone? It is very easy to love family members and friends. But God so loved the world (everyone) that Jesus gave his life on the cross for all of humanity. For there is no greater love than this, that he give his life for his friend (John 15:13). Do we, as believers and followers of Christ, show this kind of love? We need to understand how important it is to show love through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many people may never hear the word or know God’s love except through believers like us, so it is imperative that we know this and the responsibility that this holds. We are open books and we need the world to read this message. The message of God’s love.
The Greatest Love Story
And this brings us to the greatest love story of all time is, apart from the story of Jesus giving his life on the Cross for all humanity, there is, in fact, a love story that happened before Jesus came to this world. It was imperative that we lay down the foundation of God’s love before we got to this part. 750 years before Christ, there was a time when the Prophet Hosea lived and was God’s voice to the people. The name Hosea means “salvation” or “liberation”. In his time, Hosea was the most known man in all of the land. He was God’s prophet, the seer, the voice of God to the people of Israel. Everyone knew who Hosea was and at the beginning of the book of Hosea, God’s first task for him was that he marry a prostitute.
“The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.”
A prostitute? Hosea marries Gomer and they have children together. It’s not certain how much time passes since they joined in marriage. They made a family together and live their lives. In the process of time, something happens. We read on in chapter two, that Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea and Hosea threatens to disown her and not have mercy on her children for they are children of whoredom (Hosea 2:4). She would pretty herself with her jewels and earrings and go after her lovers (Hosea 2:5). Hosea explains how this is how God sees his people, for God sees his people as his wife.
The Man of God’s wife decides to return to her previous life so she leaves him. Can you imagine the embarrassment this must have been for Hosea? What a shameful thought that a wife would leave the Prophet of God? Again, an unspecified amount of time goes by and God calls on Hosea to do something more outrageous (at least by our standards), In Hosea three, God instructs Hosea “go find your wife and marry her again! Wait, what? That’s right. God tells Hosea to go look for his wife, to love and marry her again, even after she has returned to prostitution. So Hosea sets out to find his wife.
It is no surprise that we would expect prostitution to take place on “the other side of town” or as a red-light district, even in Hosea’s time. So my imagination takes hold and begins to picture Hosea, this great Man of God, one that everyone knows to be the Messenger of God, going down into the red light district. Now there is an instance in the Gospels where the Jews criticize Jesus for going to the other side of town and for eating with the sinners. Jesus’ reply was “For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost”. Biblical scholars believe that Jesus was actually referring to the story of Hosea and Gomer when giving this reply to the Jews. Jesus continues his reply by giving them three parables: The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Prodigal Son. All which deal with lost things/people being found, sound familiar? Hosea which is a type of Christ goes to darkest parts of the city to find his wife, which was lost and saves her.
I can imagine Hosea, walking into the city and beginning to ask around “Hey, have you seen my wife”? Imagine Hosea running into some of Gomer faithful customers and having to ask these unsavory characters about his wife. This is what God wanted him to do so he does it, throwing all shame and embarrassment to the curb. His search leads him to what some say was an auction. I can imagine that Hosea sees her and perhaps she sees him. What attitude does Gomer have towards seeing Hosea? Is happiness in her eyes or is the rebellion so thick that she ignored his very presence? Perhaps the regrets and shame are so unbearable that she keeps her head down. Regardless, Hosea claims her as his wife.
Paid Full Price
The person selling her must have said, “I don’t care who she is to you, she is mine and this is the price I want for her!” Hosea pays the price to buy his wife back. Wait, what? Does Hosea purchase what is already his to begin with? He does and pays full price which was 15 shekels of silver and 1.5 homers of barley. This love story is so powerful that, aside from Jesus dying on the cross, its the greatest show of love, the greatest love story of all time. You see, within the story of Hosea and Gomer, the Gospel of Jesus is present. Hosea’s name means “salvation” and Gomer’s name means “completion”. Salvation plus completion, despite the sin, is God’s good work through Jesus Christ. The price paid for Gomer was silver and barley, which represents divinity and humanity. Combining divinity with humanity, you get Jesus, Can you see where this is going?
This is a prophecy about God paying a price for what was already his. This price paid for humankind was Jesus Christ. Even though God created us and by definition, we were already his he chose to pay the price for us to have salvation! This is why John 3:16 is so powerful for God so loved the world! The life of Hosea and Gomer is, in my humble opinion, the greatest love story for it is one and the same with Jesus’ love story so yes, this is the greatest love story of all time!