When Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, died, the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36) They may have misinterpreted the total reasons for His tears, for Jesus knew even then that He would raise Lazarus from the dead. Perhaps He cried because of the bigger picture — that sin entered the world and death through sin, or that He was surrounded by people who said they believed in God yet had no hope that anyone would be resurrected from the dead.
Nevertheless, Jesus did love this man and his sisters. They were His friends so His love for them was expressed in His tears and in what He did next.
This story is emotional, yet my emotions soar when it becomes an example of what happened at Calvary; Jesus looked out on a sea of humanity, realized that sin and death have power over all of us, and from His great heart of compassion He went beyond weeping for our sorry state. Because He loves us with an everlasting love, He shed His blood and died for our sins that we might live again.
‘Behold how he loved!’ can be said of every person, even me. The love of Jesus Christ is eternal, without beginning or end. He loves me from the foundation of all creation and His love endures forever.
Human love, as good as it can be, is not like that. At some point, it falters, even fails. Yet with the love of God as my source, I can convey to others this amazing love that Jesus gives to me . . .
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:7–12)
The key to loving others is knowing how much I am loved by God. Our first clue is in life itself. He created me. As a person who creates, when I make something I react to it. My creations are not as God’s yet I have great delight in them. I can imagine the heart of God when He spoke the world into existence and fashioned Adam from the dust of the ground. Saying “very good” may have been a God-sized understatement of how He felt.
The greater clue to His love is that Jesus came to die for our sin. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God’s creation turned its back on Him, but His love never ceased. He responded to our folly by the most incredible act in all history; He came here to die in our place and give us the gift of eternal life. This is love.
This morning my heart is filled with this knowledge. Christian friends and life itself declare the love of God to me, also as does the Holy Spirit . . .
“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:13–19)
God’s love perseveres. I often do not respond to Him and to others as love prompts, yet God never shakes His finger at me in anger. He patiently persists in longsuffering, lasting love that never grows cold.
Jesus, the Bible says that Your love will accomplish what You desire. You will conquer the hearts of those You have redeemed and You will satisfy the need of our hearts by not withholding any good thing from us. Surely this includes a love that never ends, a love that at the end of time all creation will shout with awe, ‘Behold how he loved them!’