Thursday, January 12, 2023

The Love of Jesus

Perhaps from the bloody cross, Jesus taught the apostle, "Love endures all things".

Perhaps it was the bloody cross that entered into the apostle's mind when Jesus told him, "It is more blessed to give than to receive".

Love is a Fountain. Love is a Giver. Love gives to those who do not deserve it, or earn it, and to those who would never desire to return it. 

Except for one place, everywhere Jesus went He was a Giver, even from the Cross. 

From His mother's womb, He caused His cousin John (the Baptist) to leap and baptized His aunt Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit. 

From His birth, He brought angels to sing from heaven announcing tidings of peace and goodwill. 

From His childhood, He gave thought-provoking questions which confounded the elders.

Throughout His life, He gave His virtue to the thankful and unthankful, to the good and the evil. 

At His betrayal, He gave His enemy a kiss of peace and called him "friend", for Jesus was certainly a Friend to him. When His disciple defended Him using a sword, cutting off an officer's ear, Jesus stooped down, grabbed the ear, and miraculously restored the officer's ear. 

Before his trial, He prayed that the faith of His beloved disciple would not fail after he would deny Him before His enemies during the trial. 

At His trial, instead of speaking from hurt, rejection, or anger, He gave silence. His silent acceptance of the cross was our salvation.

From the cross, He gave forgiveness to those who crucified Him. From the cross, He announced salvation to one repentant soul who moments before had railed on Him. From the cross, He gave His disciple to His mother and His mother to His disciple. Even then, He sought to comfort others, rather than seeking to be comforted; to understand, rather than to be understood. His selfless love endured all things. He gave until He had nothing more to give. Perhaps the only way for JESUS to bear the pain of those who hurt Him was to bear the cross and to die upon it for them. The pain of others rejecting eternal life was greater than the pain of His own rejection. From the cross, we learn that when love is in pain, it gives and when love is perfected, it can suffer cheerfully. 

It is indeed more blessed to give than to receive. In His immense poverty, Jesus endlessly gave. His giving endured all things. He died not with His arms folded but stretched out, willing to embrace all who would look to receive His Gift.

His love defied every natural impulse to retain what was best for those who rejected and injured Him. His love did not fail to give what others needed even when others were purposing only to use Him for His gifts. His giving endured all things, even death itself. He gave what was best for others even when it would be worse for Himself. 

The pain others caused Him did not quench His love but rather inflamed it. For it was in suffering that He was "touched with the feeling of our infirmities". He learned what rejection felt like by those who rejected Him and He gave Himself for them. He learned what being hated felt like and He gave Himself for those who hated Him. His love endured all things. 

Perhaps the only way that JESUS could be COMFORTED in His humiliation and grief was to be crucified for those who hurt Him? For the greatest comfort amidst His sufferings was our salvation. Unlike with myself, and with what is common among men, the more pain His loving heart endured, the more that love compelled Him to give. His love endured all things. It was more of a blessing for Him to give than to receive. 

All of the agonies which He bravely endured He conquered as a Man, through that Spirit by which He was begotten. 

The greatest pain He felt was not the rending of His back, not the iron nails in His hands and feet, nor the crown of thorns, but it was the hatred of those whom He loved. Only one time do you hear Him crying out from His personal grief, "I thirst". Yet, He was not thirsting for water or wine. He was thirsting for you and for me. He was thirsting to become our thirst. He drank in all of "Earth's Tears" through the once and for all sacrifice of Himself on the cross to reconcile us to God: the eternal Life and True Love. 

There is only one place where Jesus didn't give. It was the place where He received. He dwelled in the secret place of the Most High. There, He received all that He needed. Jesus said, "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me" (John 6:57). 

Dear friends: The ONLY way to truly have the same love as Jesus and for that same love of Jesus to truly possess us is to feed on Him. He is the Living Bread Who gave Himself for the life of the world. 

Those who are overwhelmed by His love are not overcome by the evil in the world or in the church. What is overwhelming you? The love of Jesus or the cruelty of others? Do offenses weaken your ability to give or do they teach you compassion? It was likely more difficult for Jesus to not love those who did not love Him but what is your testimony? Is it difficult for you to give to those who have disappointed you time and again? Have you any love for those who are unloving to you? Do you truly have Jesus living inside of you? Through his redemptive work Jesus became a life-giving Spirit. Is His life really inside of you? Are you a fruit-abiding branch on the Vine? Does your giving endure all things? If not, then you are not feeding on Jesus. Those who feed on Him will have His life and become fruitful branches of His cross.

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“Reason dictates that persons who are truly noble and who love wisdom will honor and love only what is true. They will refuse to follow traditional viewpoints if those viewpoints are worthless...Instead, a person who genuinely loves truth must choose to do and speak what is true, even if he is threatened with death...I have not come to flatter you by this written petition, nor to impress you by my words. I have come to simply beg that you do not pass judgment until you have made an accurate and thorough investigation. Your investigation must be free of prejudice, hearsay, and any desire to please the superstitious crowds. As for us, we are convinced that you can inflict no lasting evil on us. We can only do it to ourselves by proving to be wicked people. You can kill us—but you cannot harm us.” From Justin Martyr's first apology 150 A.D. Martyred A.D. 160