Repost: I love you, I love you not.
The night was calm with a sweet surrender. The air was cool and the trees swayed gently in the evening breeze. While there in the middle of a little garden surrounded by tiny flowers He knelt. His face tilted toward the heavens, I listened closely as I overheard what sounded to be an agonizing plea, yet a surrender of the will. The tears falling from His face quenched the thirst of the flowers, and the sound of His voice was so sweet that even the birds hushed their singing. What was He praying about? What was the burden that lay so heavy on His heart?
I decided I simply must know as I moved in closer to ask my interruptive questions. I came to a sudden halt when I heard His final cry: “If it be Thy will, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done!” The next thing I knew there were soldiers marching up the path heading straight towards Him. Was He a criminal? I hid myself in the shadow of a large oak tree to avoid being seen anywhere remotely close to this man, or being mistaken as being associated with Him. The jumbled sounds of questions being hurled in His direction sounded like nothing but confusion to me. Then He spoke. “Whom seek ye?” All at once the angry multitude shouted “Jesus!” Unmoved, He quietly but confidently answered, “I am He.” I watched as the mob took Him away and brought Him before a judge called Pontius Pilate. There He was questioned and sent to be flogged, beaten, and scourged. Once the soldiers had finished their task He stood again before the judge. Questioned once more, the judge sentenced Him to be beaten again and then to hang until dead upon a cross on the mountain of Golgotha.
What was His crime? What had He done that had been so wrong – so wrong that He deserved to die for it? I must have been uttering these thoughts out loud, for someone came from behind me and answered my questions. “He’s done nothing to deserve this. He’s perfect; He’s sinless. He’s the Son of God, and this is what He came for – this is the purpose of His coming.” I couldn’t help but to ask this person why; his only response was “because He loves us.
Love? Really? The man has been sentenced to death! How is that “loving us”?
Well, just what is “love” anyways? Is love just a mere feeling, a fleeting emotion, or a passing idea? No. Love is so much more – so much deeper than the human mind can truly comprehend. One man put it this way: “Love is a verb.” Meaning that love is an action; love gives of itself without holding back. Love is unconditional – no matter the color, the race, the religion, the creed, or the political views. That same man also said this: “Do not seek to be loved. Seeking to be loved makes love impossible, for such actions are selfish, and love cannot be selfish.” Not only is love unconditional, but it’s selfless. Better yet, what more beautiful and truthful way is there to put it than how it’s already been presented! It’s a familiar text – one that is often recited at weddings or other such occasions; I will paraphrase. Love is willing to suffer long, without resentment. Love doesn’t envy, but wants what is best for the other, no matter what it may cost itself. Love does not behave wrongly. Love is not selfish, nor does it seek to satisfy itself. Love is not easily angered. Love thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in the sin and downfalls of others, but rejoices in truth. Love bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things; endures all things. In short, love never fails – it cannot fail. It’s rare; it’s complete; it’s perfect. What does it mean when it says that love “cannot fail”? God claimed that He Himself is love – and God is perfect – therefore love is perfect.
Often we hear people talk about “love at first sight.” I have to ask though, is there such a thing? I understand “like at first sight,” or even just plain and simple “lust” – but love? I don’t think that’s possible. Love is not words, actions, passion, or intimacy – those are merely the results of love. Young teenagers are often in a hurry to tell their boyfriend or their girlfriend (of all of 3 weeks, or sometimes less) that they love each other. How is this possible, especially if they’ve only known each other for a short time? There is no way they can really know their significant other’s character or what they truly are. How can you really love someone you know hardly anything about? Love is something you go through with someone. It’s a journey – something that takes time to develop. It doesn’t “just happen” overnight.
I am always a bit skeptical when someone tells me they love me because I don’t think they understand what it really means. Of course, there are several types of love – a parent’s love for their child, someone’s love for their friends or co-workers, a woman’s love for her husband, or perhaps even a child’s love for toys or candy. What here on earth comes closest to resembling the kind of love the Lord Jesus Christ had for us? Firefighters often place their lives in danger to rescue someone from a fire, and in the end sometimes even lose their life in the middle of that rescue. Again, some would say the love that parents have for their children, and still others would say the love spouses have for each other. These “loves” may compare in some small fashion because, no doubt, a parent would give their life to save their child’s if the need ever arose; and there’s no question in my mind that if someone truly loves their spouse the way they ought to, they would be willing to give their life for them! This is the kind of love I’m speaking of – a love called “Agape”. Agape love is the deepest love there is. It’s a sacrificial love that will go beyond any means to prove true and give anything to prove how unfathomable it really is. The Bible says that “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life” for another!
So then, let’s get back to the story. The judge has sentenced Jesus to hang on a cross until death even though He’s done absolutely nothing wrong, and somehow all this is supposed to mean that He loves us. Let’s look a little farther down the road. He’s been sentenced to death, and now all of Jerusalem is lining the streets as they watch what barely even resembles a man anymore dragging two wooden beams behind Him. He’s walking towards a hill where two other criminals already hang. Jesus has already been betrayed, denied, forsook, and left alone by His so-called “friends”. He’s been beaten, mocked, scourged, and falsely accused – and that was nothing compared to what was still to come.
Once He reaches the top of that hill, He’s stretched out on a cross, naked, and has three nails pounded through His flesh to keep His body on that old, rugged cross. The sky has darkened and the storm howls while angels watch from heaven awaiting the orders from their dying King to save Him from His creation; yet the orders never come. He has a purpose to complete. Finally, that moment comes as the sins – past, present, and future – of all the world weigh heavy on my Savior’s shoulders; the Heavenly Father turns His back on His only begotten Son because He is holy, and sin cannot enter the presence of Holiness. “My God, My God! Why Hast Thou forsaken me?” the questioning cry pierces through the air as the thunder booms. Then with His final breath He cries, “It is finished!” Just to be sure that He’s truly dead, a soldier drives a spear through His side as a mixture of water and blood flow from this wound confirming his death.
So what does it mean? How is this “love”? Undoubtedly, this is the greatest example of love – true, real love – that there will ever be. Remember, love is unconditional, selfless, sacrificial, unending, undeniable, and perfect. The Bible says in John 3:16, “For God (the source of love) so loved (the extent of love) the world (the object of love), that He gave (the action of love) His only begotten Son (the gift of love), that whosoever (the target of love) believeth in Him (the condition of love) should not perish (the mercy of love), but have everlasting life (the grace of love)!” Remember the little garden where Jesus knelt and prayed? That was the beginning of the greatest love story ever told. Who is the recipient of the love in this story? Remember the one who betrayed Him, the one who denied Him, all the ones who deserted Him, the ones that beat Him, the one that sentenced Him, and the ones that were actually guilty? All of these are the ones who are the beneficiaries of this great and awesome love. The truth is that because of our sin there is a price to pay. We were created with a free will which allows us to make a choice – either we pay the price for our sin ourselves, or we accept the sacrifice Jesus made in our stead. He is our substitute; He paid the price for crimes He had not done. As for me, I know I have never loved someone sacrificially or perfectly; and there isn’t one person in this world that I would be willing to give my son for, nonetheless my only son! After all, I’m only human. Yet God in His grace and mercy gave His only begotten Son for the world that we “might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly.”
Thankfully the story doesn’t end there! My God didn’t stay dead! My God won the victory by conquering death and the grave! I know that my Redeemer lives and is ever making intercession for me on the right hand of the Father. I’ve been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb in that all my sins are covered by His sacrifice and by His love.
Indeed, one of the greatest gifts we can bestow upon another is to love them – I mean really love them with a true, deep, sacrificial, unconditional love; for love’s true purpose is to give of itself, wanting nothing in return. Everyone needs someone; even the most unlovable person needs someone to love them. See, love isn’t just a feeling; love isn’t a mere emotion or some idea thought up by humans. Love is so much more than that; it is so deep that we cannot completely and fully understand it. Love was planned by God to be something so wonderful for us, yet so often we misuse those three little words. We lack true understanding in this area.
I often wonder how different our world would be if when people tell others that they “love” them, they really meant it. Would they do anything for that person? Would they give anything for that person – even if it meant sacrificing their own life? People like that are few and far between. I’m glad I know one person who knows what it truly means to love me. He gave everything He had to prove His love for me!