Have you ever received a gift you didn’t expect?
My best friend loves to cook and her kitchen is filled with every gadget known to man. While I like to bake, my kitchen tools are comprised mostly of the basics. I have silverware, a few large metal spatulas and spoons, a set of knives, etc. It wasn’t a matter of finances; I simply didn’t know I was missing anything.
One year, my friend bought me a rubber spatula and an egg separator. I looked at the rubber spatula and quickly pictured it as the perfect tool for spreading frosting! As for the egg separator, I had no clue what it was or why she bought it for me. The pitiful look on my face prompted my dear friend to explain the purpose of the tool. As it turns out, it was exactly what I didn’t know I needed most.
Valentine’s Day is upon us. That sweet time of year we expect our special someone to show his or her love with chocolate, flowers, or perhaps even diamonds. Why? Because at one time, someone decided these symbolize love. And the association has stuck ever since.
But what if you discovered that there is Someone who chose to express His great love for you, not with flowers, but with thorns?
Why thorns? The answer goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Something happened when mankind rebelled against God, “the ground is cursed because of you…It will grow thorns and thistles for you…” (Genesis 3:17-18) Even worse, the relationship between God and man was severed and mankind was banished from the Garden altogether.
But because of God’s boundless love for us, God set in motion a plan to restore that relationship even before time began. Yet His gift did not reflect our preconceived ideas of what love should look like. God’s gift to the world did not come in a brightly-wrapped package tied with a pretty red bow. We expected flowers and when we didn’t get it, we reciprocated with betrayal, blood and thorns.
“They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head.” (Matthew 27:28-29)
However, praise God that His gift of love does not conform to what our sinful nature seeks, but rather to what He knows our hearts need the most: His grace and forgiveness. God sent His Son Jesus to save us and “…redeem us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:13)
We expected flowers, but Jesus – God in the flesh – showed his great love for us with thorns, and I for one, am eternally grateful.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)