In July 2005, my younger brother, George, was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer that attacks the lymphatic system. As I started my senior year of high school, I had to watch my only little brother (15) fight for his life against a disease that claims lives daily.
My parents made what was a no-brainer of a decision for them. They were going to make sure George got great treatment. Though it took great financial sacrifice on their part, they were bound and determined to save their son. There was not a bill that they could have been handed that they would have deemed too expensive for the life of their son.
And for reasons that I still can’t fathom, my brother beat cancer. I don’t ask why George got cancer. I’m too blown away by God’s grace that he beat it when so many others don’t. He currently lives with me in Fort Worth, works as a physical therapist and is contemplating participating in an IRONMAN Race to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of being deemed cancer-free next March.
We have a Heavenly Father who has dealt with us in the same manner, and we see this illustrated by Hosea. Hosea, an Old Testament prophet, had the honor and privilege of marrying a prostitute and having kiddos with names that meant things like No Mercy and Not My People. Lucky guy.
His bride, Gomer, left him to chase after other lovers. As she did so, Hosea still provided for her financially, ensuring that her lovers were able to feed her. Ultimately her lovers don’t take care of her, and she finds herself up for auction as a prostitute and the legal property of another man. At this point, Hosea steps in.
And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.”-Hosea 3:1-3
A pastor at my church pointed something in a recent sermon: the fact that he offered more than just silver suggests that he didn’t have enough money to buy her (his wife, mind you) out of prostitution. There was not a price Hosea wouldn’t pay. He shouldn’t have had to pay anything for his wife, but he showed his extravagant love by paying the high price.
Put yourself on that auction block. You are stripped naked, you’re defiled and degraded body on display for all to see. Every ounce of self-respect is gone. You’re dehumanized, treated as nothing more than a worn down piece of property. Consider the shame and emotional anguish.
Then the Hosea steps in and says, “That’s mine. There is no price I will not pay to have my bride. Whatever it takes. I am not leaving without her.”
The story illustrates the type of love that we have found in Jesus. When we were lost in our sin, on that auction block with no way to break the chains or purchase our escape, Jesus stepped in and said, “That’s mine. There is no price I won’t pay to call him my own, even if the price is my life. I will make a way. So take my life. I lay it down.”
When I see what my parents did for my brother and what Hosea did for Gomer, I see not only the love that the Lord has for me, but also the determination with which he pursues me. He bursts on the scene, finding us sullied and hopeless, and he ponies up, taking every one of our debts upon his body and restoring us to right standing.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see that Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross. I can’t blame him. In Matthew 26:39, he said, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” But his desire to save us from our sin superseded his desire to avoid being tortured to death on a cross.
I was bought with a price, and Jesus was determined to pay whatever price, no matter how high. In His eyes, it was a worthwhile, albeit costly, transaction; the life of the perfect Son of God to gain a people in rebellion, whose works of righteousness are nothing more than filthy rags. Inexplicably, Jesus loved me to death.