The Incan Empire had practices that make us recoil. One was child sacrifice. Each year, certain families would surrender their child. They would celebrate their child and then give her corn alcohol to dull her fear. Then they would carry her up a mountain and knock her unconscious so that she wouldn’t feel pain. The child was then left to die of exposure. It would be wrong to surmise that these families de-valued children. Quite the opposite, this was a grave decision for the parents. They simply felt that their gods demanded this action.

One’s vision of God really does make a difference. If you think God is supposed to be angry and spiteful, you won’t have the courage to come to Him with the openness of a child. If you think God is supposed to be distant and uninterested, you probably won’t come to God at all. But Scripture tells us that if we want to know what God is like, we must begin by listening to Jesus.

This truth is illustrated in Jesus’ transfiguration, when Peter, James, John, and Jesus climbed a hill. Suddenly, Jesus’ clothes changed to “dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them” (Mark 9:3). The disciples watched, stunned, as “Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus” (Mark 9:4).

Not knowing what to say (but apparently feeling the urge to say something), Peter blurted out that they should build three shelters, one for Jesus and one for each of the two patriarchs (Mark 9:5). Immediately, the sky darkened and God’s voice boomed from the clouds: “This is My dearly loved Son. Listen to Him” (Mark 9:7). Before Elijah, before Moses, listen to Jesus.

In Jesus, we know that God is just and compassionate, willing to lay down His own life for us. Jesus Christ, shining in brilliant love, is our best picture of God.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Hebrews 12:1-13