“And when she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, ‘This is one of the Hebrews’ children.’ ”. Exodus 2:6
In creativity born of desperation Jochebed has set her son afloat in the reeds at the edge of the Nile river. She then tells her daughter, Miriam, to stay and watch over him and leaves, no doubt hurrying away to her work as a slave.
Miriam probably didn’t have to stand watch very long. That morning Pharaoh’s daughter chose that section of the Nile river to go to, to take a bath. As she and her companions walked along looking for a suitable place to bathe they passed by where Moses was floating among reeds and the princes noticed the basket floating there and became curious. So she sent one of her maids to get the basket and they brought it to her. When Pharaoh’s daughter saw the baby inside that basket and heard him cry she knew exactly what was going on and she determined that this baby would be saved. She would take him as her own.
I’m sure she also wasn’t fooled when a young girl ran up to her volunteering to bring a woman to nurse the child, or when a few minutes later that girl brought a woman to take the child. She must have at least suspected that this was Moses family.
But the compassion of Pharaoh’s daughter for a condemned baby boy, and the desperation of that baby’s mother to save her son, both of which combined together to making the saving of his life a reality, hold no comparison to the compassionate love God felt for us or his desperation to save us from the condemnation we had earned.
If anything, on the surface, God’s plan seems even crazier than Jochebed’s. Send the Son to earth incarnate as a man. Require that he grow to adulthood among a corrupt and sinful people and remain sinless. Then, if he makes it that far, have him, through teaching and healing, show the love of God to the world and then have him submit to dying as a criminal, nailed to a cross.
For God to chose this path demonstrates how deeply, how desperately, he loves and desires us. He possesses a love deeper than what any mother could have. It’s one thing to be willing to give yourself but to give your only, your beloved son? That’s love on a grander scale.
Every act of human sacrifice and love contains a glimmer of the love God has for us but just a glimmer. In the times when love drives our sinful, human hearts to actions beyond their usual self-centeredness we encounter a love we can understand. This understanding then allows us to stretch and imagine just how great the Father’s love is for us. But even our grandest imaginings fall short of the reality. Only when we’ve been able measured the expanse of eternity and chart the infiniteness of space will we understand just how great God’s love is for us.