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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’ love’

The literary structure of Mark 3:7-12

We’re entering into a new section of Mark today, although it’s a short one. This passage is actually a counterpart to an earlier section we’ve already looked at in 1:35-45, where Jesus is mobbed by crowds. [These are the parallels: 1) Jesus went to desolate places – Jesus withdraws to a boat on the sea. 2) People searching, coming to him – a great crowd came to him. 3) The leper kneels to ask for healing – the crowds “fall upon” him for healing. 4) The leper seeks Jesus’ touch – the crowd seeks to touch Jesus. 5) There is geographical expansion in Jesus’ ministry around Galilee – and then throughout the region of Israel and beyond.]

And notice that these two stories about crowds and Jesus are on either side of the section on the five stories of conflict that we just finished.

A. Jesus is mobbed by crowds – Mark 1:35-45

B. Five stories of conflict – Mark 2-3:6

 A1. Jesus is mobbed by even bigger crowds – Mark 3:7-12

It was the attraction of crowds by Jesus in the first section which led to opposition from various Jewish leaders. Yet this opposition did nothing to stop even more people coming to him.

Alright, let’s go through our passage and see what God has for us today.

Mark 3:7-12

7Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea . . .

He withdrew to get away. This means he left the city of Capernaum to the more remote seashore along the Sea of Galilee in that region.

It’s possible that this is in response to the threat against his life in 3:6. (This is how Matthew takes it – 12:15). But it may also just be that he’s trying to get away from the conflict and the crowds. Jesus did this, or tried to, from time to time as we will see in Mark 6:31 where he said to his disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

In this case his attempt to get away didn’t work so well, as v. 7 goes on to say –

. . . and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him.

There are seven place designations in all. The crowd here is bigger than any before. Mark calls it a “great crowd.”

Despite the opposition of Jewish leaders, Jesus’ influence continues to grow throughout all Israel and beyond. People are hearing about what he’s doing and want to receive from him -just as they have heard others have received from him.

It’s interesting that the crowds even come from the areas connected to the leaders who oppose him. Idumea is where Herod the Great is from, whose family the Herodians support. And Judea and Jerusalem are the home base of the Pharisees and scribes.

9And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him . . .

Jesus takes action. He places a restriction on the crowd by getting into the boat. Verse 10 tells us why –

10for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him.

The people in the crowd all wanted to touch him,  not just see him or have him say something to them to be healed. So this actually presents a danger to Jesus that he will be trampled by the eager, and in some cases – desperate people in the crowd.

Although no specific healings are recorded, it’s assumed that he healed people in the crowd here as well. (Matthew 12:15 says he healed “all.”)

The phrase, “pressed around” more literally can be translated “fell upon” him. It parallels the very similar word in our next verse – “fell down before” him.

11And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him . . .

  • So those who wanted healing fell upon Jesus to try to touch him to be healed.
  • And those who were demonized fell down before him, a position of humility.

and (they) cried out, “You are the Son of God.”

The demons are responding to Jesus’ authority and power. They kneel before him and say who he is. And what they say is correct. Jesus is the Son of God. This is what God called Jesus at his baptism in 1:11. And this is what Mark calls him in 1:1. Jesus is truly the Son of God and the Messiah or anointed one.

As we saw before, Mark tells us that the demons know who Jesus is (1:34). They’re from the spirit world and know these things.

12And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

The demons know who he is, but others don’t yet understand this. And because demons aren’t the best witnesses and because Jesus wants to reveal himself in his own way and according to his own timing, he silences them. Just as he restricted the crowd, so he restricts the voices of the demons.

Again, no exorcisms are recorded, but it’s assumed that Jesus didn’t just silence them but also cast them out, as was his normal practice (e.g. Mark 1:25; 34).

Here are several things I would highlight for you from this brief passage:

1. Jesus’ amazing power and authority. This is the central theme of this whole part of Mark. In our story, Jesus can heal anyone. And he has complete power over demonic spirits. This teaches us that he has the power to save us whatever our need is; whatever our situation is. This is just who Jesus is.

2. By way of contrast, in this passage we learn what Jesus really wants. With regard to the crowds Jesus patiently ministered to their needs. But as John 2:24 says, “he did not entrust himself to them.” He knows that most of them are coming to him because they want something from him. This is very different than being a disciple, which involves confessing Jesus as God’s son and Messiah and sacrificing to follow him.

He also knows that the crowds are fickle. They like him now, but will eventually turn on him and yell for his crucifixion.

What Jesus really wants is not crowds. Crowds are not a mark of true success in the kingdom of God. What does Jesus want? Disciples who will give their lives for him. This is the mark of kingdom success. (See Luke 14:25-33; John 6:60-67)

With regard to the demons, they do correctly confess that Jesus is the “Son of God.” Yet this is meaningless because they do so, not out of allegiance to him, but from a position of disobedience. You can have right belief – and their confession is orthodox – but still be rejected by God. As James says, “even the demons believe that God is one – and shudder!” 1:19. What they believe is right, but it does them no good.

This is true for people as well. In Matthew 7:21 Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” These people correctly called Jesus “Lord.” They knew who he was. They even did miracles in his name. But they’re rejected (7:23) because they don’t do God’s will as Jesus teaches this.

What does Jesus want? Not just a correct confession of who he is, he wants disciples who will obey his teaching.

3. Jesus’ patient love on full display in this story. Jesus’ ministry was grueling. It was very demanding – endless crowds with endless needs. Yet still he patiently ministered to them.

His ministry to the crowds, healing and casting out demons brings to mind two passages from Isaiah, which Matthew notes in his gospel. In his version of this story in Mark, Matthew quotes Isaiah 42:1-3. I’ll just highlight one phrase from this passage. It says, “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench.” (Matthew 12:20; Isaiah 42:3)

What a beautiful picture of Jesus caring for the weak and needy. The reed that is almost broken is not crushed. The wick that is barely burning is not extinguished. Jesus gently brings them healing and wholeness.

A second passage, Isaiah 53:4 is also quoted by Matthew. This comes from a different episode, but where Jesus is doing the same thing – healing and casting out demons. It notes that this ministry “was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.’” Matthew 8:17; Isaiah 53:4. (It’s possible that Mark’s word for diseases alludes to Isaiah 53:4, more literally “afflictions.”)

Now we usually only apply this verse to Jesus’ death on the cross. But here Matthew shows us that Jesus bore human brokenness throughout his ministry – to bring healing. He takes on and bears their brokenness and gives them healing and wholeness.

Jesus’ labors during his ministry present a portrait to us of his love, which continues on today for each one of us. Just as he patiently ministered to and loved the crowds in his day, so he patiently ministers to and loves us in all of our brokenness and need and brings us his salvation.

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Series on Witness

I’ve set three goals to challenge us this year. The first is to work at simplifying our lives from so much busyness, so that God and the church aren’t crowded out. The second is to work at our relationships so that we become a more loving, caring and connected community. The third is to be more outwardly focused as a congregation so that we move from being comfortable, to where we are willing to take risks to reach out; to move from a focus on what we get out of church, to a focus on what we can give to others as we reach out.

We are working at this third goal today as we begin a sermon series on witness, that will continue to challenge us along these lines for several weeks.

We have been talking in Sunday school about reaching out and I want to be clear about two things, First, each of us already have areas where we can share our faith, whether it’s family, job, school, social gathering places, our neighborhoods, and so forth. These are places that God has put us providentially, so that we can do his work. So when I encourage us to reach out I mean all of these.

Now, as a congregation, that is, as a whole, we are placed providentially in the South West Chambersburg area also to do God’s work. And so this is a part of our corporate outreach focus. And we have worked at this a lot recently with VBS, follow up visits with the kids that came to VBS, and with more interaction to come, as we brainstormed in Sunday school last Sunday. And also our block party just yesterday.

But my second point is that you can engage in ministry in SW Chambersburg in many different ways, according the gifts and callings God has given you. So no, not everyone will be knocking on doors. But you can pray for, encourage and support those who do. You can help out with events that are geared toward this ministry. You can pray for this area of town.You can be involved in other ministries connected to the people in this area.

So when I talk about witness don’t think I mean if you’re not doing door to door evangelism in SW Chambersburg you aren’t a witness. Not at all! I want to affirm and bless how God has opened all kinds of opportunities for you in various areas of your life to share – as you gather at a gun-shop wood carving group to talk, as you work in a restaurant, as you volunteer in your neighborhood. All of these are what we’re focusing on. All of these are open doors to share your life and faith with others.

If we ask, why do we share? One reason is certainly that we love the Lord and want to do what he says. Right? Jesus told us, “You will be my witnesses” – Acts 1:8. He said, “You are the light of the world” – Matthew 5:14. And he also said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” – Matthew 28:19. All of these are Jesus’ instructions to us, and we want to do what he says.

But what I would have you focus on this morning is this –

Our motivation for reaching out is Christ’s love for people  

This comes out in two key passages. The first is Matthew 9:35-38. Here we see how Jesus’ love for people was his motivation.

35And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” So Jesus is out sharing the gospel.

 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus did what he did because he loved the lost. He came, he shared, he ministered and more – because of love. He saw the lost as harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus felt for them and cared about them. You can see Jesus’ heart here.

In this immediate context, his compassion leads him to do two things. First, he asked for pray for more workers. 37Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” He called on his disciples to pray earnestly for people to go out on his behalf to share his love.

And then second, he sent those very disciples out into the harvest. Mathew 10:5 – “these twelve Jesus sent out.” They became the instruments of his love to others.

The second passage is 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. Here we see how Christ’s love for the lost is not just the reason for Jesus’ sharing, it is the reason that we share.

 Paul says, 14For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

In this passage Paul talks about Christ’s love for people – Christ “has died for all”; and he died “for their sake.” In love, he laid down his life for all. We also see what Christ wants for everyone – new life; that they would “no longer live for themselves” but live a new resurrection life as he does.

Paul goes on to say how this love of Christ affects him. He said, it “controls us.” That is, it directs his actions to be in accordance with this love; Christ’s love leads him to minister to others like Jesus did. This word can also be translated as “compels” in the sense of Christ’s love for others urges him on to minister to them, even Christ did.

The point here is that each one of us is to be like Paul. We are to be controlled by the love of Christ so that we share the gospel with all people.

Why do we share?

Jesus’ love was why he reached out. And Jesus’ love was the reason the 12 shared. And Jesus’ love was the reason Paul ministered. And Jesus’ love is the reason we are to share our faith. 

Like the 12, like Paul, we are to be Jesus’ hands and feet that minister his love to the lost. But to be his hands and feet, we must first have his heart.

How do you view the lost?

Where is your heart? What about the young person listening to loud, profane music? Do you see them through the eyes of the flesh – this person is annoying and rude so that you avoid or rebuke them in disgust? Or do you see them through the eyes of Jesus’ love – this person is helpless and harassed and needs Jesus?

What about the person who is swearing up a storm? Do you see them through the eyes of the flesh – this person is vulgar and should shut up? Or do you see them through the eyes of Jesus’ love – this person is like a sheep without a shepherd; they don’t know Jesus and so they need to be touched by the love of Jesus? Of course they are doing wrong, they aren’t following the Shepherd and he is what they need.

What about the popular person who seems to have everything going their way? Do you see them through the eyes of the flesh – this person would make fun of me, or I don’t like popular people? Or do you see them through the eyes of Jesus – this person needs Jesus too; it may look like things are good, but who knows what’s going in in their hearts?

It’s Christ’s love that changes our perspective. It’s Christ’s love that changes our hearts to look at people in a new way – as helpless and harassed and like sheep without a shepherd.

It’s Christ’s love that is to control us, not our own likes and dislikes. It’s Christ’s love that compels us to share with all people so that they might know Jesus and no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised to new life for them.

William Higgins 

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We are jumping right back into the middle of a really intense encounter between Jesus and his opponents. As we saw last week it is actually a trial scene, at least an informal one.

In the Jewish legal system anyone can bring charges and they have accused Jesus of two things: 1) breaking the law by healing on the Sabbath and 2) making himself equal to God, which is blasphemy, and carries with it the death penalty. Jesus defends himself by claiming to be God’s unique agent who only does what his Father, who sent him, told him to do. (For more see – Why Jesus can heal on the Sabbath). 

Well, Jewish trials were based on testimonies, not investigative or detective work. And the one who had the most impressive or honorable witnesses usually won. And so in our passage today Jesus seeks to lay out the positive case for who he is through the use of testimonies.

Testimonies to Jesus

31If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true. 32There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.”

Jesus’ testimony refers to what he has just said about himself in vs. 19-30 regarding who he is and his relationship with the Father. He understands that they don’t accept his words as valid testimony (although they should since he is not an ordinary person 8:13-18).

But the Father bears witness to him. This is what Jesus means when he says “there is another who bears witness about me.” (The present tense here excludes this from referring to John’s witness which is all in the past tense below)

And he presents this as coming through three different avenues, in accordance with the Mosaic Law that says, “A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” – Deuteronomy 19:15 (NIV).

1) The testimony of John the Baptist. 33You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.”

Jesus appeals to John for two reasons: 1) God sent John and spoke through him (1:6). And 2) they themselves went to hear John’s testimony, giving credit to it. They had some openness to John for a time, so Jesus is saying, “remember his testimony to me.”

John told them that the Messiah was in their midst. And he testified to Jesus’ exalted status. He called Jesus the “Son of God” (1:34). And he said, “after me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me” (1:30). Even though John was older than Jesus, the Son of God existed before John.

Jesus himself doesn’t need John’s witness because he knows who he is apart from this. But he hopes they will listen to him.

(That this is all in the past tense seems to indicate that John is either in prison or more likely already dead.)

2) The testimony of Jesus’ works. 36But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.”

Works here refer to the miracles and healings that he is doing in their midst, and has just done in healing the man who couldn’t walk for 38 years. (Jesus’ “works” can be more broadly construed, as in 5:20 where it has to do with Jesus’ role on the final day in giving life and judging. But here seems to be focused on his signs, as in 9:3) (See 10:37-38; 14:11 for the witness function of his signs)

As the man born blind, but later healed by Jesus says in 9:32-34, “Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” And as Jesus himself says in 15:24 he does “works that no one else did.” These testify to who Jesus is. 

3) The witness of the Father’s word. 37And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me.”

This refers to the witness of the Scriptures as we will see in a minute (below v. 39, 46-47). (This is not a new witness of the Father, but it is a testimony that he “has” borne to Jesus.) 

But first let’s note that all three of these testimonies establish that the Father sent Jesus – vs. 36, 37, 38; they establish Jesus’ point about who he is; he is God’s authorized agent.

Next Jesus says more about this last witness of Scripture, but he does so in the context of making –

Countercharges against his opponents

In a Jewish legal context, unlike our own, the one who began as a defendant can become a prosecutor of his accusers and successfully bring charges against them. And this is what Jesus does in this section; he turns the tables on his opponents.

Talking about Scripture he says, “His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.”

When he speaks of God’s voice and form he is talking about the giving of the Law or Scripture at Mt. Sinai. When God gave the Law the children of Israel heard God’s voice as a trumpet sound, and they saw him as a thick cloud with smoke and fire – Exodus 19:9-11; 16-20 (They didn’t see God’s form per se – Deuteronomy 4:12, but a visible manifestation in fire – 4:36; or his glory –  5:24).

But his opponents have neither heard nor seen God. They haven’t truly received God’s word.It is not abiding in them.

And he knows this by their outward actions – they do not receive “the one whom he has sent;” God’s Word in human form (1:1; 14).

39You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” “Search” refers to diligent Scripture study, in this case of the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament. And there is no doubt that his opponents studied the Scriptures carefully.

But they have missed the central point of Scripture. They have a wrong focus and so they have missed the witness of the Scriptures to Jesus, which is the central point.

Here’s an example of this witness, from just before in John 5:27,  Jesus identifies himself as the Son of man spoken of in Daniel 7:13-14 who receives dominion and glory on the final day.

Although they hope that by studying the Scriptures they will  have life, they will not, since they have missed the point; they have missed Jesus who is the one who gives life.

And then we come to their core problem. “41I do not receive glory from people. 42But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”

In contrast to Jesus, who doesn’t care at all about human praise but only seeks after God and loves God, they do not love God, but do care about human praise.

As was the custom in that day there was great regard for teachers – with various honors, rank and titles given to them. Jesus is saying that they are more than happy to accept these fellow teachers who come in their own name and they will exchange praise with one another. But when God’s unique agent comes, in the Father’s name, they reject him. Why? Because their desire is for human glory and not the glory of the one God. Their pride keeps them from listening to Jesus as he challenges them and corrects their understanding of Scripture. (See Matthew 23 for a similar critique.)

(The phrase in v. 44, “the only God” is a statement of the Shema that there is only one God – Deuteronomy 6:4. So whatever we say about the relationship of the Father and the Son, there is still only one God)

Then the focus comes back to Scripture. 45Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

They have missed the witness of Moses to Jesus. A specific example of this comes from Deuteronomy 18:15-18. Here the Lord says to Moses, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you . . . and I will put my words in his mouth and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever does not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” God spoke through Moses of sending an agent like Moses, who would speak God’s words and the fate of all would rest on their listening to him.

Although they hope that Moses will defend them on the final day (his role as the intercessor for Israel in Scripture was thought to continue), he will actually accuse them. For he himself wrote of Jesus. But they have not truly believed Moses, which leads them to reject Jesus.

(Notice the correspondence between the Father’s “word” 5:38 and “my words” in 5:47 [an inclusion] as well as how the subtext of Deuteronomy 18:18-19 uses the phrase “my words” for God’s words. Also notice the agency language of this subtext,  including coming “in my name.”)

 A summary of Jesus’ charges:

1. They have not truly received or believed God’s word in Scripture  and Moses.

2. They have missed the point of Scripture and Moses, which is Jesus.

3. Their hearts are focused on seeking after human glory, so they receive those who come in their own name.

4. And this pride leads them to reject God’s promised agent, Jesus, who comes in the Father’s name. They think they know the Scriptures and won’t listen to him.

And in rejecting Jesus they show that they have (or already had) rejected God. Because to reject an agent is to reject the one who sent him.

Some challenges for us

Do you accept who Jesus claims to be? As we saw last week, he is God’s agent. He only does and says what the Father tells him to do and say. He is the one who fully and truly reveals God (1:18). And he is testified to by John the Baptist; the works of Jesus recorded for us; and the word of the Father in the Scriptures.

Do you accept him for who he is? And if so, do you live your life like this is true, according to his words and example? This is the true test of what you believe about Jesus.

Don’t miss the point of Scripture. You can know everything there is to know of the details of Scripture – it background, various theories of composition, what this or that scholar says about any topic – but still miss the point and find no life.

Jesus is the point of Scripture. The Old Testament points to him, which is what Jesus is talking about, and now the New Testament presents him and points back to him. And it is when we see and know Jesus in the Scriptures that we find the life that the Scriptures can give.

Beware of teachers who seek human glory. Those who are seeking human praise are too proud to truly hear and receive from God. They are busy hearing and receiving praise from others.

Whether it is in popular Christian culture with teachers exalting themselves in various ways, or in Academia with its culture of giving and exchanging glory with one another with various ranks and titles – these are not the teachers to listen to. Look for teachers who love God and seeks after the glory that comes from God alone.  They are the humble ones that labor seeking no recognition. These are the ones who receive from God and can teach you the word.

Let’s learn from Jesus’ love for his enemies. They are actively seeking to kill him, making capital charges against him. But he shows his love for them. He certainly speaks the truth to them, calling out their sin. But he does this out of love. In 5:34 he says, “but I say these things so that you may be saved.” Wow! They are trying to kill him and he is trying to bless them with salvation.

May we also love our enemies, even when they make wrongful charges against us and seek to harm us.

William Higgins

 

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(Lord’s supper devotional)

We are celebrating the Lord’s supper today. And certainly a part of what we are doing is remembering Jesus’ love for us. And that’s because we see his love displayed before us in the bread and cup – a picture of his death on the cross for us.

So as we partake today let’s think a bit more about his love for us. I would like to highlight three things in particular this morning. And I will speak in personal terms.

 1. He loved me, though I did not deserve it

I did nothing to be worthy of his love. I had no claim on him that he had to love me so. Rather, I have shown time and again, that apart from God I am rebellious against God. That is, I want to do things my own way, have control of my own life. And I am also self-centered when it comes to other people. Me first, and others second, if at all. I may not have displayed this very openly, but that was also for my own self-centered reasons.

The fact is that through my words and actions, I have made myself thoroughly unlovable. All of my twisted rebelliousness and self-centeredness made me abhorrent to Jesus, because he is exactly the opposite of these things. He is the picture of love and submission to God and love for others. But I must surely have repelled and disgusted him.

Yet, despite all this, Jesus still cared about me. Jesus still loved me! Indeed, I can say, as Paul does in Galatians 2:20, he “loved me and gave himself for me.” He loved me, though I did not deserve it.

 2. He loved me with actions, not just words

He loved me with deeds, not just inner intentions in his heart, or thoughts in his head.

He saw me in all of my need; my sin and my brokenness. And he did not sit far away, in his place of glory with the Father and say, “Oh sure, I love you. I see your need from here and I’m definitely thinking about you.” He came and he acted for me. He saw me as the revolting, disgusting mess that I was – and he came to help me anyway. He demonstrated his love for me, with real life actions in this world where I live.

3. He loved me sacrificially

When he came – he gave up so very much to help me in my need.

  • He laid aside his glory, which he had from the beginning of time
  • He lowered himself to become a human
  • He humbled himself to serve others
  • He bore the cross – the torture, the injustice, the pain, the shame
  • He died on the cross

And he did all this for me. He loved me sacrificially. Jesus held nothing back.

Do you know this love? It’s there for you too, even though you don’t deserve it. He has acted to help you with your need coming to you. And he has done so sacrificially. He truly does love you. But you need to receive this love. Will you receive his love?

Now the Lord’s supper is not just an encouragement that yes, Jesus loves us. If that’s all it is we could just have the broken bread and the cup up here and look at it. We could put it in a display.

But no. He said of the bread, “take and eat.” He said of the cup, “drink from it all of you.” We are to take this love, his love into us, so that we can then love others, as Jesus has loved us. In other words, the Lord’s supper is also a call for us to embody Jesus’ love for others. This is the challenge of Jesus’ love. To receive it is to commit to give it.

1. We are to love those who don’t deserve it

At times we can be pretty good at loving those we like, and those who are nice to us; those who are like us and don’t bother us.

But Jesus calls us to love precisely those who are not lovable to us. As he said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – Matthew 5:44. Just like Jesus loved us when we were unlovable, he calls us to love those that we find unlovable – who disgust us. We are to give them the same love that he gave to us

2. We are to love others with deeds, not just words

After talking about Jesus’ love for us, and how he came and died for us, John says, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” – 1 John 3:18.

Just like Jesus loved us with actions, we are to love others with real deeds, coming to them to help them with their need, where they live. We are to give the same love to them that Jesus gave to us.

3. We are to love others sacrificially

In the same passage, John says this about Jesus’ love, “by this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.” But then he goes on, “and we ought to lay down our lives for the sisters and the brothers. . . ..” – 1 John 3:16. You see the message – he laid down his life for us, we are to lay down our lives for others.

And love is not always easy. The phrase, “laying down your life” means sacrifice. And we need to love not just when it is convenient, or when we get something out of it.

Just as Jesus loved us sacrificially, we are to love others sacrificially. We are to give the same love that he gave to us, to others.

So as you partake today be encouraged by Jesus’ love for you. And as you take in his love receive the challenge, and recommit to give this same love to others.

William Higgins

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