Have you ever questioned God’s love for you? I found a beautiful illustration in Scripture that settles that question. In the book of Hebrews, Jesus quoted part of Psalm 40, but He changed one line. J. Vernon McGee amazed me by tying this to an Old Testament custom.
This Old Testament law is strange to our Western ears. Don’t let this distract you from the beauty of what it demonstrates about Christ. You can read Exodus 21:2-6 here.
The law limited the time a Hebrew could be held as a slave. In the seventh year he could go free. But his freedom meant leaving the wife his master had given him and the children born to him while he was a slave. If he chose to exchange his liberty for permanent servitude because he loved his master and his wife and children, his ear would be pierced. Imagine what that pierced ear meant to his wife and children.
Hold that thought. Now, let’s look at where Christ quotes Psalm 40. I’ve underlined the parts that Christ changed. That actual Psalm reads: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—but my ears you have opened [pierced, Strong’s H3738]” (Psalms 40:6-8, NIV).
Jesus changes the second half of that line but quotes the rest of the Psalm as is:
“Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.’
“Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God’” (Hebrews 10:5-7, NIV).
This is an astounding connection. In the Old Testament, a freed slave could offer his ear to be pierced if he wanted to continue to serve his master and stay with his wife. His pierced ear revealed his love for both his master and his wife.
In the New Testament, Jesus offered His body to be broken as a sin offering to fulfill His Father’s will and to free His bride, the church, from sin. His pierced hands and side show His great love for His Father and His desire to be with us.
We never have to question whether Jesus loves us. His pierced side, hands, and feet settle the matter.
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Debbie W. Wilson