In the same way that the Lord created out of complete freedom from outside influence, he also created with full knowledge of what creation would cost him. He knew “the end from the beginning” (Isa. 46:10). Thus he gave the gift of life to those who would reject the giver. He gave without forcing anything in return. He gave freedom and choice—this is true love. A god who is fearful that his created subjects might overturn him would never create. However, God is fully secure in himself; he cannot be moved. Fear did not hold him back from creating.
“God created!” What an awesome truth! “God created” means God sacrificed himself before he created. He experienced death before he ever created life, and all throughout the created universe he revealed that only through death could there be life. The Scriptures describe the Lamb (the Messiah) as “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8, NKJV). God was slain before he had ever stretched out the starry hosts—he knew creation would cost him the ultimate price. He knew love would mean suffering.
Jesus’ death was no accident; it was predestined. It was a manifestation of the sacrifice that had always been in the Father’s heart. Here we see that the divine nature is love—love that gives freedom, and love that is willing to suffer because of the freedom given. From the very first verse of Scripture the pattern is set: we cannot refrain from good works because of fear. We must embrace death before we do anything good. If our Lord had to carry the cross before his first work, we have to follow in his footsteps. Only he who has life can wrestle death, and only he who wrestles death can impart life.
Why did Jesus teach us to count the cost before becoming his disciples? Because the Lord himself counted the cost before he created. Consider the parable Jesus spoke to his potential disciples:
“Suppose one of you wants to be a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘The person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:28-33, TNIV)
A disciple is someone who is trained by his master to be like his master. In the above passage Jesus teaches us what it means to be like him: he is the builder who counted the cost before he created. Jesus and his Father determined that they could finish creation before they started. God also foresaw that he would go to war against another potential king—Satan. The King of kings and Lord of lords predetermined that he would win the war. If he had not weighed up the cost of the war he would not have begun creating.
In light of this, we are enabled to understand Ephesians chapter one:
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” (Eph. 1:4-10, NIV, italics mine)
Yes, the Father and the Son counted the cost and they knew that the wealth of their love and grace—the immeasurable richness of it—was more than enough to redeem a sinful people who would reject their creator. They also knew that their “incomparably great power” was more than sufficient to defeat all demonic rule, authority, power and dominion (Eph. 1:19-23).
Prayer: Father, you did not flippantly create the heavens and the earth. You knew it would cost you your own life. You counted the cost and still went through with it. That’s the God I serve––one whose grace is richer than all the world’s evils. Help me to see and taste that amazing grace today. And enable me to follow in your footsteps.