Understanding the Bible is premised on the idea that when a subject is mentioned for the first time in scripture, it becomes key to interpreting future mentions.
The first time the word love is mentioned is in Genesis 22:2. Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love…’
This was when Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah and is symbolic of what God was going to do, in the very same place, with his own son whom he loved.
God was testing Abraham to see if he would give the most precious thing to him. While Adam disobeyed a relatively small request, Abraham, the father of faith, obeyed God’s very big request.
When Isaac asked his father, ‘Where is the sacrifice?’ Abraham replied, ‘God will provide himself a sacrifice!’ That is precisely what he did: God himself, as the son, was the sacrifice.
What a model of love this was!
Love is sacrificial. Love gives. And as we give our love to God, we release his boundless love into our lives.
John 15:13 says, ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ However, Jesus went one step further and laid down his own life for us, even before we were friends with him.
Here, God sets the bar for love incredibly high. Love is not some soppy, sentimental emotion or physical sensation; it is a profound commitment from God to us, which requires an equal response from us to God.