Monday, June 16, 2014

John 11 - The love of Jesus

There must have been millions of people who have preached sermons or given devotionals on the love of God. How many, many times have we heard about the love of Jesus? I bet that sometimes we even take it for granted.

There are many, many verses in the Bible that speak of God's love. There are still others (so familiar to us) that show the love of Jesus. Would we count this passage as one of them? Perhaps not. But we might change our minds after we study. Let's dive in!

Here is our passage:
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Him saying, `Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.' But when Jesus heard this, He said, `This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified in it.'  Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
We'll see much more in this chapter as we go, but for now I'd like to focus on those six verses. This is sometimes a hard passage for us as believers, for some of the things we read here seem to fly in the face of our perceptions of Christ. We think that He should act one way, and yet He acts in another way. We read here that Jesus chose to allow Lazarus to die. That is a little bit jarring to us, isn't it? Why did He do that?
He was motivated and chose to do this, so that the glory of God would be made known. That is something that might take sitting down and thinking about, ay?
OK, but we also need to realize that His motivation to glorify God is love, too. Look at the first of verse six: it's the word "so." Hmmmm, what came before it?

                   "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus."

SO, that is why He did NOT go to heal him, but stayed two days more where He was? I'm sure that John, writing his gospel, realized that we were going to be bewildered by this, so he is quick to explain why He stayed two days longer, why He almost seems to be making sure that Lazarus dies....he explains what could turn that decision into love:
             "This is not going to end in death. This is all about the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified in it."

Perhaps we need to define the love of God . . . John Piper says it this way:
God's love is His doing whatever needs to be done, at whatever cost, so that we will see and be satisfied with the glory of God in Jesus Christ.
Let me say it again. The love of God is His doing whatever needs to be done, at whatever cost to Himself or to us, so that we will see and be satisfied by the love of God in Christ forever and ever.
Wow. This is pretty important stuff, don't you think?
Remember when Jesus prays for us in (John) chapter 17? He is praying for us because of His deep love for us.
  "Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me may be with me where I am so that they may see my glory." (John 17:24)
He didn't pray for our path to be easy and strewn with roses. He didn't ask the Father for us to receive instant answers and just what we ask for every time. He asks that we may see Him. His prayer of love is "show them my glory, then they will have the ultimate in satisfaction."

Now let's look at another passage. This time, it's Paul talking to all of us:
". . . to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me - to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it would leave me. And he said to me, `My grace is sufficient for you . . . my power is perfected in weakness.' "Most gladly, therefore, I will boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.' (II Corinthians 12:7-9)

The first thing we notice is that the love of God didn't take the thorn away, just like He didn't rush to heal Lazarus. Also, love had something more important, and more satisfying to give to Paul (and us). Lastly, the all-sufficient power of Christ is the more important gift; it is the gift that is all-satisfying, too.
So when we cry out to God, to help us and love us and forgive us, what does God say? How does God respond? He says, "I am going to use all of my power and might, and I'll use the life of my Son, in order to give you what you need most -- me! Fellowship with God, a glimpse of God, and an enjoyment of Him.
Here are two other verses that reinforce what we are learning here:
 `For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whosoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

           `This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you
            have sent."  John 17:3

Why is it that we want to be loved by God? Oh, absolutely yes, not to perish. And to avoid going to hell. And to not have a huge guilt trip any more that destroys us. But is that all we want? Don't we want life? And what is life? It's to know Him and His Son. To have fellowship with Him, to catch a glimpse of Him, and to enjoy Him.
Until Christ becomes our treasure, the one thing that we most want, we cannot fully know what it is to be loved by God. When it is He who fully satisfies us, then we are on the right path to knowing what it is to be loved by Him.
We ought to be thankful for His love and mercy. Yes. Without any doubt. But not just for the relief of our conscience. Not only for the escape from hell. Not merely for health in our bodies, or reconciliation of family. It is for the mercy and love that says we can see Him and enjoy Him forever and ever.
This is the love that overwhelms us and makes us want to live for Him.


Belinda said...

The words to the song "Praise You in the Storm" came to mind while reading this.

My main reason for asking God to save me was my fear of hell. But when you get God, you get so much more than that. You just have to tap into Him. He gives wisdom, discernment, guidance, comfort, hope...

How the lost (and those who refuse to accept Him) function in this world without Him is beyond me. To be going through a bad storm, and feel His love and power is unbelievable.

Cathy said...

Martha and Mary had no idea what the Lord was going to do, although they knew that Christ could heal their brother when he was sick. They didn't know the end of the story, but we do. Therefore, we can look at our trials and burdens and storms and, even though like Mary and Martha, we don't know the end of our story in its details, we do know that all of our trials and burdens and storms are for His ultimate glory, and that He gives us His strength in our weakness. I love that song "Praise You in the Storm" too.