Welcome to our new weekend series, Jesus Loves People! For the next many weeks, we will observe how Jesus' love for people was displayed and conveyed to a cross section of society. We will see Him as He loves the most religiously devout folks to the weak and doubting, from the prostitutes to the priests, from the bewildered to the brokenhearted. We will marvel at His love for thieves, murderers, and atheists. In each message, we will consider how we as God's people can show authentic love to people within each group.
We love love; we love to hear love stories and sing love songs. What’s more, we crave love—we want it more than anything and will often do anything to know that we are loved unconditionally. No one has loved better than Christ—He is the fullest demonstration of God’s love. He loved the worst of sinners and the best of saints. He loved prostitutes, drunks, the brokenhearted, atheists, religious people, etc. Let’s consider four foundational truths about His love that will function as the legs that the series Jesus Loves People stands on.
First, Jesus loves people. In Mark 10:17-22, we find a man who was very different than Jesus: he didn't know what Jesus knew, he wasn't at the same spiritual level Jesus was, he was self-righteous, he was gripped by the sins of materialism and greed, and he even walked away from Jesus. Yet, the text still says, “Jesus…loved him” (v. 21). The Greek word for love used here is agapaó, an unconditional love of the will. Jesus never met anyone He didn't love. The apostle Paul wrote that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). The meaning of agapaó—an unconditional love of the will—implies that Jesus chose to love the young man. How has Jesus shown His love to you? Has there been an occasion when you chose to love someone and that love was not returned? (See 1 John 4:21.)
Secondly, Jesus loves people individually. His approach of love was not canned or predictable. In this same chapter of Mark, Jesus blessed little children, and in the next chapter, He overturned tables and rebuked the sellers in the temple. He had the unique ability to read a situation, know who He was dealing with, and then love them accordingly. To the woman caught in adultery, He spoke tenderly. To the ostracized leper, He healed with a touch. But to the scribes and Pharisees, He spoke harshly, justly accusing them. The love of Jesus was tailor-made for every individual He met! Each expression was unique to the situation, just as love itself takes different forms. For instance, we give gifts to our children, yet we also spank them. We tell our spouse that we love them, yet we also argue with them in order to resolve issues. How do we respond in a Christlike manner to our own children—or the Lord’s? How can we “tailor-make” our expressions of love? (See John 14:15-18.)
Thirdly, Jesus loves people through us. We as the church are the body of Christ: we are His hands, touching people who hurt; we are His feet, going to the place of need; we are His mouth, voicing words of healing and truth; and we are His ears, listening to pain. Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34, NIV). When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39). In another place, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies” (Matthew 5:43-44). It is a divine mandate to love people with the love of Jesus—even the worst of people! Romans 5 tells us that the “love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (v. 5). If God’s love has flowed into our lives, it ought to flow out of our lives! Read Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27-36. What do these verses mean, and how do we do this?
Fourthly, Jesus loves people through us responsibly. Even though the text says Jesus loved the rich young ruler, it was not a sappy love of sentimentality. Jesus confronted the man with his failure, told him what was keeping him from God, and told him what he had to do to follow Him (see Mark 10:21). This was responsible and mature love. Love doesn't turn a blind eye to every behavior in the name of tolerance. Love sometimes confronts, instructs, and refuses—and it is always honest. There are two boundaries for the exercise of love: knowledge and discernment (see Philippians 1:9). Knowledge is a complete knowledge of what love is and what it is not. Many parents feel that to give their children whatever they want is love, but they should know better. Many have felt out of love with their spouse and in love with another person, but they know better. Discernment means to distinguish right from wrong. This leads to expressing love in different ways to different people. Jesus gently healed a disabled person and then overturned tables in the temple in righteous anger. Why? Because love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). Knowledge and discernment help you choose the right expression of love for the right person at the right time. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and 1 John 4. Define love biblically, and discuss how to choose the right expression of love for a situation.
Adapted from Pastor Skip’s teaching
The BIG Idea
Jesus loves people individually and responsibly through us.
Figures referenced: Dr. Richard Selzer, Karl Menninger, Paul Tournier, Billy Graham, D.L. Moody, Julian the Apostate
Greek words: agapé, agapao, epignósis
Cross references: Matthew 3:7; 5:43-44; 8:1-3; 9:9; 12:34; 23:27, 33; Mark 1:40-42; 5:1-20; 10:13-22; 11:15-17; 12:28-31; Luke 5:12-13; 8:52; 9:51-55; John 8:1-11; 11:35; 13:34; 20:16; Romans 5:5; 8:39; 1 Corinthians 13:6; Philippians 1:8-10; 1 John 4:8-9, 16
Keywords: love, Jesus Christ, Jesus' ministry, body of Christ, Christianity, knowledge, discernment Jesus Loves People