Judah Smith recently pointed out that when Jesus’ friend Lazarus was sick, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that “the one you love is sick.”
Yet, so often, don’t we say the opposite? Jesus, the one who loves you is sick. Jesus, the one who loves you is unemployed. Jesus, the one who loves you has rent coming up. Jesus, the one who loves you has a test, and he really didn’t study.
Maybe not with our words, but with our lives. God helps those who help themselves, after all. It says it right there in Second Not In The Bible 4:22.
But, if Jesus is any indication at all, what moves God towards us is not our mediocre love for God but God’s great love for us.
Yet, every time I fail and fall – I inevitably make a million promises. I’ll pray just that much harder. I’ll give that much more. I’ll just buckle down and really read the Bible. I’ll pull myself up and love God just that much more.
In other words, I’m worried God doesn’t love me any more – or at least, not as much as before – and the only way to get back into his good graces will be through my good deeds.
My actions say that what I really believe is that “For the world so loved God…” and that “He loves us because we first loved him.”
But this is a perversion of the gospel. Calling the gospel the Good News understates how powerful the news really is. We really should call it: “The Too Good To Be True” News. Ok, it’s not as catchy but the Gospel is almost unbelievable.
Because the Good News is that God so loved the world (John 3:16). He loved you! While you were quite unlovable. When you were such a jerk that the only other person that loved you was your mom and then only because she had to.
The Too-Good-To-Be-True-News is that “We love [anything, really], because God first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) The only way we have the ability to love anyone is because God loved us first.
Yet over and over I assume I’m one sin away from losing God forever. That He’s there, but only just barely, and He’s one or two sins away from leaving me for good.
But the fact is that if God wanted us to rot away in misery, He didn’t have to do anything. (John 3:17) But because of His love for me, He moved heaven to earth (literally) and did what was unthinkable. God came down from heaven and “moved into the neighborhood.” (John 1:14)
There’s a song lyric that has really been affecting me lately. Talking about Jesus, it says: “Holy, Righteous, Faithful to the end…”
What end? The very end. My very end.
Whether it happens next week in a terrible accident with a propane truck, next year in a plane crash going on a missions trip, next decade having a heart attack while eating another scoop of ice cream, or later in life after a long drawn out fight with cancer that cancer wins… Jesus will be faithful to the very end.
Not because He has to. But because He wants to. Because He loves Me.
And I wish I could say that I was faithful in return. I will not be faithful to the end. I can’t be. I’m barely able to remain faithful to the end of the day. Faithful to the end of my life? Preposterous.
But Jesus? He knows that. And He will remain faithful to me. Until the very end. Until I close my eyes on one side of eternity and open them again wrapped in the arms of Jesus. Jesus will be faithful.
Just because he loves me.
“Jesus, the one you love is sick.”