He First Loved Us

1-3. What are some factors that made Jesus’ death unlike any other in history?

ON A spring day nearly 2,000 years ago, an innocent man was tried, convicted of crimes he had never committed, and then tortured to death. It was not the first cruel and unjust execution in history; nor, sadly, was it the last. Yet, that death was unlike any other.

2 As that man suffered through his final, agonizing hours, heaven itself marked the significance of the event. Though it was the middle of the day, darkness suddenly descended on the land. As one historian put it, “the sunlight failed.” (Luke 23:44, 45) Then, just before the man breathed his last, he said these unforgettable words: “It has been accomplished!” Indeed, by laying down his life, he accomplished something wonderful. His sacrifice was the greatest act of love ever performed by any human.—John 15:13; 19:30.

3 That man, of course, was Jesus Christ. His suffering and death on that dark day, Nisan 14, 33 C.E., are well-known. However, an important fact has often been ignored. Though Jesus suffered intensely, someone else suffered even more. In fact, someone else made an even greater sacrifice that day—the greatest act of love ever performed by anyone in the universe. What act was that? The answer provides a fitting introduction to the most important of subjects: Yehowah’s love.

The Greatest Act of Love

4. How did a Roman soldier come to see that Jesus was no ordinary man, and what did that soldier conclude?

4 The Roman centurion who supervised the execution of Jesus was astonished both by the darkness that preceded Jesus’ death and by the violent earthquake that followed it. “Certainly this was God’s Son,” he said. (Matthew 27:54) Clearly, Jesus was no ordinary man. That soldier had helped to execute the only-begotten Son of the Most High God! Just how dear was this Son to his Father?

5. How might the vast amount of time that Yehowah and his Son spent together in heaven be illustrated?

5 The Bible calls Jesus “the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15) Just think—Yehowah’s Son was in existence before the physical universe. How long, then, were Father and Son together? Some scientists estimate that the universe is 13 billion years old. Can you even imagine that much time? To help people grasp the age of the universe as estimated by scientists, one planetarium features a time line 360 feet (110 m) long. As visitors walk along that time line, each step they take represents about 75 million years in the life of the universe. At the end of the time line, all human history is represented by a single mark the thickness of one human hair! Yet, even if this estimate is correct, that entire time line would not be long enough to represent the life span of Yehowah’s Son! How was he occupied during all those ages?

6. (a) How was Yehowah’s Son occupied during his prehuman existence? (b) What kind of bond exists between Yehowah and his Son?

6 The Son happily served as his Father’s “master worker.” (Proverbs 8:30) The Bible says: “Apart from [the Son] not even one thing came into existence.” (John 1:3) So Yehowah and his Son worked together to bring all other things into being. What thrilling, happy times they had! Now, many will agree that the love between parent and child is amazingly strong. And love “is a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:14) Who of us, then, can begin to fathom the power of a bond that has existed over such an immense span of time? Clearly, Yehowah God and his Son are united by the strongest bond of love ever forged.

7. When Jesus got baptized, how did Yehowah express his feelings about his Son?

7 Nevertheless, the Father dispatched his Son to the earth to be born as a human baby. Doing so meant that for some decades, Yehowah had to forgo intimate association with his beloved Son in heaven. With intense interest, He watched from heaven as Jesus grew up to be a perfect man. At about 30 years of age, Jesus got baptized. We do not have to guess how Yehowah felt about him. The Father spoke personally from heaven: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matthew 3:17) Seeing that Jesus faithfully did all that had been prophesied, all that was asked of him, his Father must have been so pleased!—John 5:36; 17:4.

8, 9. (a) What was Jesus put through on Nisan 14, 33 C.E., and how was his heavenly Father affected? (b) Why did Yehowah allow his Son to suffer and die?

8 How, though, did Yehowah feel on Nisan 14, 33 C.E.? How did he feel as Jesus was betrayed and then arrested by a mob in the night? As Jesus was deserted by his friends and subjected to an illegal trial? As he was ridiculed, spat upon, and struck with fists? As he was scourged, his back torn to ribbons? As he was nailed, hands and feet, to a wooden pole and left to hang there while people reviled him? How did the Father feel as his beloved Son cried out to him in the throes of agony? How did Yehowah feel as Jesus breathed his last, and for the first time since the dawn of all creation, His dear Son was not in existence?—Matthew 26:14-16, 46, 47, 56, 59, 67; 27:38-44, 46; John 19:1.

“God . . . gave his only-begotten Son”

9 Words fail us. Since Yehowah has feelings, the pain he suffered over the death of his Son is beyond the power of our words to express. What can be expressed is Yehowah’s motive for having allowed it to happen. Why did the Father subject himself to such feelings? Yehowah reveals something wonderful to us at John 3:16—a Bible verse so important that it has been called the Gospel in miniature. It says: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” So Yehowah’s motive amounted to this: love. Yehowah’s gift—his sending his Son to suffer and die for us—was the greatest act of love ever.

Divine Love Defined

10. Humans have what need, and what has happened to the meaning of the word “love”?

10 What does this word “love” mean? Love has been described as the greatest need humans have. From the cradle to the grave, people strive after love, thrive in its warmth, even pine away and die for lack of it. Nonetheless, it is surprisingly difficult to define. Of course, people talk a lot about love. There is an endless stream of books, songs, and poems about it. The results do not always clarify the meaning of love. If anything, the word is so overused that its true meaning seems ever more elusive.

11, 12. (a) Where can we learn a great deal about love, and why there? (b) What types of love were specified in the ancient Greek language, and what word for “love” is used most often in the Christian Greek Scriptures? (See also footnote.) (c) What is a·gaʹpe?

11 The Bible, however, teaches with clarity about love. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words notes: “Love can be known only from the actions it prompts.” The Bible record of Yehowah’s actions teaches us a great deal about his love—the benevolent affection he has for his creatures. For example, what could reveal more about this quality than Yehowah’s own supreme act of love described earlier? In the chapters to follow, we will see many other examples of Yehowah’s love in action. Additionally, we can gain some insight from the original words for “love” used in the Bible. In the ancient Greek tongue, there were four words for “love.” * Of these, the one used most often in the Christian Greek Scriptures is a·gaʹpe. One Bible dictionary calls this “the most powerful word imaginable for love.” Why?

12 A·gaʹpe refers to love that is guided by principle. So it is more than just an emotional response to another person. It is broader in scope, more thoughtful and deliberate in its basis. Above all, a·gaʹpe is utterly unselfish. For example, look again at John 3:16. What is “the world” that God loved so much that he gave his only-begotten Son? It is the world of redeemable mankind. That includes many people who are pursuing a sinful course in life. Does Yehowah love each one as a personal friend, the way he loved faithful Abraham? (James 2:23) No, but Yehowah lovingly extends goodness toward all, even at great cost to himself. He wants all to repent and change their ways. (2 Peter 3:9) Many do. These he happily receives as his friends.

13, 14. What shows that a·gaʹpe often includes warm affection?

13 Some, though, have the wrong idea about a·gaʹpe. They think that it means a cold, intellectual type of love. The fact is that a·gaʹpe often includes warm personal affection. For example, when John wrote, “The Father loves the Son,” he used a form of the word a·gaʹpe. Is that love devoid of warm affection? Note that Jesus said, “The Father has affection for the Son,” using a form of the word phi·leʹo. (John 3:35; 5:20) Yehowah’s love often includes tender affection. However, his love is never swayed by mere sentiment. It is always guided by his wise and just principles.

14 As we have seen, all of Yehowah’s qualities are sterling, perfect, and appealing. But love is the most appealing of all. Nothing draws us so powerfully to Yehowah. Happily, love is also his dominant quality. How do we know that?

“God Is Love”

15. What statement does the Bible make about Yehowah’s attribute of love, and in what way is this statement unique? (See also footnote.)

15 The Bible says something about love that it never says about Yehowah’s other cardinal attributes. The Scriptures do not say that God is power or that God is justice or even that God is wisdom. He possesses those qualities, is the ultimate source of them, and is beyond comparison in regard to all three. About the fourth attribute, though, something more profound is said: “God is love.” * (1 John 4:8) What does that mean?

16-18. (a) Why does the Bible say that “God is love”? (b) Of all the creatures on earth, why is man a fitting symbol of Yehowah’s attribute of love?

16 “God is love” is not a simple equation, as if to say, “God equals love.” We cannot rightly reverse the statement and say that “love is God.” Yehowah is much more than an abstract quality. He is a person with a wide array of feelings and characteristics in addition to love. Yet, love runs very deep in Yehowah. One reference work thus says regarding this verse: “God’s essence or nature is love.” Generally, we might think of it this way: Yehowah’s power enables him to act. His justice and his wisdom guide the way he acts. But Yehowah’s love motivates him to act. And his love is always present in the way he uses his other attributes.

17 It is often said that Yehowah is the very personification of love. Hence, if we want to learn about principled love, we must learn about Yehowah. Of course, we may see this beautiful quality in humans as well. But why is it there? At the time of creation, Yehowah spoke these words, evidently to his Son: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26) Of all the creatures on this earth, only men and women can choose to love and thus imitate their heavenly Father. Recall that Yehowah used various creatures to symbolize his cardinal attributes. Yet, Yehowah chose his highest earthly creation, man, as the symbol of His dominant quality, love.—Ezekiel 1:10.

18 When we love in an unselfish, principled way, we are reflecting Yehowah’s dominant quality. It is just as the apostle John wrote: “As for us, we love, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) But in what ways has Yehowah loved us first?

Yehowah Took the Initiative

19. Why might it be said that love played a key role in Yehowah’s creative work?

19 Love is not new. After all, what moved Yehowah to begin creating? It was not that he was lonely and needed companionship. Yehowah is complete and self-contained, lacking nothing that someone else might supply. But his love, an active quality, naturally moved him to want to share the joys of life with intelligent creatures who could appreciate such a gift. “The beginning of the creation by God” was his only-begotten Son. (Revelation 3:14) Then Yehowah used this Master Worker to bring all other things into existence, starting with the angels. (Job 38:4, 7; Colossians 1:16) Blessed with freedom, intelligence, and feelings, these mighty spirits had the opportunity to form loving attachments of their own—with one another and, above all, with Yehowah God. (2 Corinthians 3:17) Thus, they loved because they were loved first.

20, 21. Adam and Eve were exposed to what evidence that Yehowah loved them, yet how did they respond?

20 So it was with mankind as well. From the start, Adam and Eve were virtually bathed in love. Everywhere they looked in their Paradise home in Eden, they could see evidence of the Father’s love for them. Note what the Bible says: “Yehowah God planted a garden in Eden, toward the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis 2:8) Have you ever been in a truly beautiful garden or park? What pleased you most? The light filtering through the leaves in a shady alcove? The stunning array of colors in a bed of flowers? The background music of a gurgling brook, singing birds, and humming insects? What about the scents of trees, fruits, and blossoms? In any case, no park today could compare with the one in Eden. Why?

21 That garden was planted by Yehowah himself! It must have been indescribably lovely. Every tree delightful for beauty or for delicious fruit was there. The garden was well watered, spacious, and alive with a fascinating variety of animals. Adam and Eve had everything to make their lives happy and full, including rewarding work and perfect companionship. Yehowah first loved them, and they had every reason to respond in kind. Yet, they failed to do so. Instead of lovingly obeying their heavenly Father, they selfishly rebelled against him.—Genesis, chapter 2.

22. How did Yehowah’s response to the rebellion in Eden prove that his love is loyal?

22 How painful that must have been for Yehowah! But did this rebellion embitter his loving heart? No! “His loving-kindness [or, “loyal love,” footnote] is to time indefinite.” (Psalm 136:1) Thus, he immediately purposed to make loving provisions to redeem any rightly disposed offspring of Adam and Eve. As we have seen, those provisions included the ransom sacrifice of his beloved Son, which cost the Father so dearly.—1 John 4:10.

23. What is one of the reasons that Yehowah is “the happy God,” and what vital question will be addressed in the next chapter?

23 Yes, from the beginning Yehowah has taken the initiative in showing love to mankind. In countless ways, “he first loved us.” Love promotes harmony and joy, so it is no wonder that Yehowah is described as “the happy God.” (1 Timothy 1:11) However, an important question arises. Does Yehowah really love us as individuals? The next chapter will address that matter.

Jesus Christ is the Holy One Of God

John 6:69 We have believed and come to know
that you are the Holy One of God.

Jesus

People looking for evidence of Jesus perfect human body will not find any.
It was disintegrated by Yehowah God.

There are many such pursuits by humans who want physical evidence of Jesus Christ’s
perfect human life on earth.

No one will ever find any.

Jesus ransom sacrifice is the most sacred of sacred events ever in human history or ever will transpire in the record of human history.

Insight on the Scriptures Volume 1 Page 349 Body

*** it-1 p. 349 Body ***
The physical body of Jesus Christ was not allowed to decay into dust as did the bodies of Moses and David, men who were used to foreshadow Christ. (De 34:5, 6; Ac 13:35, 36; 2:27, 31) When his disciples went to the tomb early on the first day of the week, Jesus’ body had disappeared, and the bandages with which his body had been wrapped were left in the tomb, his body doubtless having been disintegrated without passing through the process of decaying.—Joh 20:2-9; Lu 24:3-6.

He is alive and happy with Yehowah God in Heaven. This picture depicts the relationship of a Loving Father with His Son, but the heavens of the heavens cannot contain Almighty God. God wants you to remember Jesus this way.

TRUE CHRISTIANITY BASED ON THE BIBLE

As Yehowah’s Witnesses, we strive to adhere to the form of Christianity that Jesus taught and that his apostles practiced. This page summarizes our basic beliefs.

  • God. We worship the one true and Almighty God, the Creator, whose name is Yehowah. (Psalm 83:18; Revelation 4:11) He is the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.—Exodus 3:6; 32:11; John 20:17.
  • Bible. We recognize the Bible as God’s inspired message to humans. (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16) We base our beliefs on all 66 of its books, which include both the “Old Testament” and the “New Testament.” Professor Jason D. BeDuhn aptly described it when he wrote that Yehowah’s Witnesses built “their system of belief and practice from the raw material of the Bible without predetermining what was to be found there.” *
  • While we accept the entire Bible, we are not fundamentalists. We recognize that parts of the Bible are written in figurative or symbolic language and are not to be understood literally.—Revelation 1:1.
  • Jesus. We follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and honor him as our Savior and as the Son of God. (Matthew 20:28; Acts 5:31) Thus, we are Christians. (Acts 11:26) However, we have learned from the Bible that Jesus is not Almighty God and that there is no Scriptural basis for the Trinity doctrine.—John 14:28.
  • The Kingdom of God. This is a real government in heaven, not a condition in the hearts of Christians. It will replace human governments and accomplish God’s purpose for the earth. (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 6:9, 10) It will take these actions soon, for Bible prophecy indicates that we are living in “the last days.”—2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 24:3-14.
  • Jesus is the King of God’s Kingdom in heaven. He began ruling in 1914.—Revelation 11:15.
  • Salvation. Deliverance from sin and death is possible through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. (Matthew 20:28; Acts 4:12) To benefit from that sacrifice, people must not only exercise faith in Jesus but also change their course of life and get baptized. (Matthew 28:19, 20; John 3:16; Acts 3:19, 20) A person’s works prove that his faith is alive. (James 2:24, 26) However, salvation cannot be earned—it comes through “the undeserved kindness of God.”—Galatians 2:16, 21.
  • Heaven. Yehowah God, Jesus Christ, and the faithful angels reside in the spirit realm. * (Psalm 103:19-21; Acts 7:55) A relatively small number of people—144,000—will be resurrected to life in heaven to rule with Jesus in the Kingdom.—Daniel 7:27; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:9, 10; 14:1, 3.
  • Earth. God created the earth to be mankind’s eternal home. (Psalm 104:5; 115:16; Ecclesiastes 1:4) God will bless obedient people with perfect health and everlasting life in an earthly paradise.—Psalm 37:11, 34.
  • Evil and suffering. These began when one of God’s angels rebelled. (John 8:44) This angel, who after his rebellion was called “Satan” and “Devil,” persuaded the first human couple to join him, and the consequences have been disastrous for their descendants. (Genesis 3:1-6; Romans 5:12) In order to settle the moral issues raised by Satan, God has allowed evil and suffering, but He will not permit them to continue forever.
  • Death. People who die pass out of existence. (Psalm 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) They do not suffer in a fiery hell of torment.
  • God will bring billions back from death by means of a resurrection. (Acts 24:15) However, those who refuse to learn God’s ways after being raised to life will be destroyed forever with no hope of a resurrection.—Revelation 20:14, 15.
  • Family. We adhere to God’s original standard of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, with sexual immorality being the only valid basis for divorce. (Matthew 19:4-9) We are convinced that the wisdom found in the Bible helps families to succeed.—Ephesians 5:22–6:1.
  • Our worship. We do not venerate the cross or any other images. (Deuteronomy 4:15-19; 1 John 5:21) Key aspects of our worship include the following:
  • Praying to God.—Philippians 4:6.
  • Reading and studying the Bible.—Psalm 1:1-3.
  • Meditating on what we learn from the Bible.—Psalm 77:12.
  • Meeting together to pray, study the Bible, sing, express our faith, and encourage fellow Witnesses and others.—Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:23-25.
  • Preaching the “good news of the Kingdom.”—Matthew 24:14.
  • Helping those in need.—James 2:14-17.
  • Constructing and maintaining Kingdom Halls and other facilities used to further our worldwide Bible educational work.—Psalm 127:1.
  • Sharing in disaster relief.—Acts 11:27-30.
  • Our organization. We are organized into congregations, each of which is overseen by a body of elders. However, the elders do not form a clergy class, and they are unsalaried. (Matthew 10:8; 23:8) We do not practice tithing, and no collections are ever taken at our meetings. (2 Corinthians 9:7) All our activities are supported by anonymous donations.
  • The Governing Body, a small group of mature Christians who serve at our world headquarters, provides direction for Yehowah’s Witnesses worldwide.—Matthew 24:45.
  • Our unity. We are globally united in our beliefs. (1 Corinthians 1:10) We also work hard to have no social, ethnic, racial, or class divisions. (Acts 10:34, 35; James 2:4) Our unity allows for personal choice, though. Each Witness makes decisions in harmony with his or her own Bible-trained conscience.—Romans 14:1-4; Hebrews 5:14.
  • Our conduct. We strive to show unselfish love in all our actions. (John 13:34, 35) We avoid practices that displease God, including the misuse of blood by taking blood transfusions. (Acts 15:28, 29; Galatians 5:19-21) We are peaceful and do not participate in warfare. (Matthew 5:9; Isaiah 2:4) We respect the government where we live and obey its laws as long as these do not call on us to disobey God’s laws.—Matthew 22:21; Acts 5:29.
  • Our relationships with others. Jesus commanded: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” He also said that Christians “are no part of the world.” (Matthew 22:39; John 17:16) So we try to “work what is good toward all,” yet we remain strictly neutral in political affairs and avoid affiliation with other religions. (Galatians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 6:14) However, we respect the choices that others make in such matters.—Romans 14:12.

If you have further questions about the beliefs of Yehowah’s Witnesses, you can read more about us on our website, contact one of our offices, attend a meeting at a Kingdom Hall near you, or speak to one of the Witnesses in your area.

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STEPS THAT LEAD TO BAPTISM AND CONTINUED GROWTH

  • We start with “taking in knowledge” of Yehowah and his Son, Jesus Christ.—John 17:3
  • Our faith increases as our knowledge grows.—John 3:16
  • We regularly call on Yehowah in prayer.—Acts 2:21
  • We appreciate the need to associate regularly with others of like faith.—Heb. 10:24, 25
  • We repent of our sins.—Acts 17:30
  • We turn around, rejecting bad practices.—Acts 3:19
  • Our faith moves us to speak publicly to others.—2 Cor. 4:13
  • We dedicate ourselves to Yehowah in order to follow Jesus properly.—1 Pet. 4:2
  • We symbolize our dedication by water baptism.—1 Pet. 3:21

Everything you have learned on this page is scriptural and is backed up by scriptures. That is the correct way, by using God’s word the Bible. John 17:17

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