During the Korean War a pastor’s son, his only child, was killed one morning by soldiers in a brutal act of terrorism. The pastor was beside himself with grief because he loved his son dearly. He decided that he would hunt down the men who killed his son. Amazingly, he was able to find out who the two men were and where they lived. Early one morning he went into their house and told them that he knew they had murdered his son. The men expected to be killed but the pastor said: “You have taken my son and now I want you to become my sons in his place.” The pastor was able to persuade them to come with him. He took them home. He adopted them as his legal sons, loved them and cared for them. The two men became Christians and later they served as pastors in Korea. Due to the love of the father the killers actually benefited from the death of the father’s son. (Floyd McClung in his book, Finding Friendship with God).
About 2000 years ago God also sent his Son, his only, to the world. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Of this Son of God we read: The Word (Jesus) became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father’s only Son (John 1:14). God loved his Son dearly. He rejoiced over this Son: After all the people had been baptized, Jesus also was baptized. While he was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit came down upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my own dear Son. I am pleased with you” (Luke 3:21, 22).
Jesus, the Son of God, had compassion for people. He healed them (Matt. 14:14), gave them food (Matt. 15:32), let the blind see (Matt. 20:34), taught people who were like sheep without a shepherd (Mark. 6:34), raised the widow’s son from the dead (Luke 7:13), and much more.
But the Pharisees and priests hated Him. They brought false accusations against Jesus, and the Son of God is struck, ridiculed and crucified. Just as the son of the father in Korea was killed innocently, so the Son of God had been killed innocently. Just as the father went out in search of the killers of his beloved son, so the Father of Jesus also comes looking for us. Just as the father had not revenged himself on his son’s killers, but persuaded them to become his children, so God also persuades us to become his children. As the father lovingly took care of his new sons, so God does the same with us. The death of the son brought the killers a new life. Jesus was killed by people, but precisely thereby we were granted redemption and a new life. In his love God turns everything upside down. We become children of God through the death of his Son. We are forgiven.
The killers eventually did what the slain son would have done: they spread the Gospel. With the Son of God not being physically present on earth any longer, God now asks us to continue the work of his Son. We must now spread the Gospel because God has brought us home, He made us his children. Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God (1 John 5:1).
Our heavenly Father, thank you that we can be your children today because your only Son died in our place and thus brought us redemption. Amen.