A greater love

June 21st, 2017

The title of my message today is “A Greater Love”. It is inspired by two things – our readings from Romans 12:9-20 & Philippians 2:3-11 and reflections on the life of Christ.

In today’s readings we saw that it called us to a different way of living. It talked about things like really loving one another, hating what is evil, honouring others about ourselves, being devoted to one another, practicing hospitality, sharing with those who are in need, being faithful in prayer, having the attitude of Christ and not losing our spiritual fervour. It also touched on not practicing revenge and blessing those who are our enemies.

As I thought about these things it inspired me to be a better man. It inspired me to want to live at a higher level. A Kingdom level. As I reflected on this I realised that I needed to look afresh at the life of Christ. I needed to look at some of the things He did and how He interact with others. I needed to look afresh at the way Jesus loved others and the type of things He did.

So in this message I want to look at four things where Jesus showed “a greater love”. A love that is not the usual example of this world, but a love that stretches from eternity into our world and pierces the darkness and makes our lives so much better.

Jesus’ love met the people’s most pressing needs

On many occasions in the Bible we see that Jesus met people’s most basic pressing need when He interacted with them.

In Luke 7:11-15 Jesus raised the widows only son. It says, “Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him.    As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out–the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.    When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”   Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”  The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Jesus fed the crowds – In Mark 8:2 Jesus said, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been with me for three days, and they don’t have anything to eat.” He then multiplied the fishes and the loaves and they all had their fill.

Jesus healed the leaper in Matthew 8:2-3. “A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”   Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.”

In all three of these occasions Jesus met the people where they were at and He met their most pressing need. The people needed food, the mother needed her son as she would have no-one to look after her being a widow or no way to make a living in that society, and the leper was healed of his sickness that made him an outcast. Interestingly Jesus would have become ceremonially defiled touching a coffin and a leper, but He did it anyway.

For us as Christians we need to meet people’s basic needs in order to enter their lives. That is why I am a part of the food outreach in Merredin and we are doing food parcels here. I have given away 15 food parcels this week (13 in Merredin and 2 here). It has allowed me to enter in people’s lives, talk with them, pray for them, give them Bibles and tracts, and share the Gospel. It has opened doors to people who would not normally given me the time of day.

Like Jesus’ example, we need to meet people’s basic needs.

Jesus’ love had compassion and He wanted to be their Shepherd

On many occasions in the Gospels we see that Jesus was moved with compassion. Jesus often saw the great crowds of people and He wanted to be their shepherd.

In Matthew 9:35-36 we see that Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.   When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

In Matthew 14:14 we read, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

Also in Mark 6:35 it says, “When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw the large crowd that was like sheep without a shepherd. He felt sorry for the people and started teaching them many things”.

There was something about a crowd that caused Jesus’ compassion to rise up. He saw them as individual people who needed love, provision of food, comfort, encouragement, healing and teaching. He wanted to be their Shepherd.

In the Biblical context, shepherds had several different responsibilities to their sheep and ultimately, to the owner of the sheep. They kept a lookout for predators and protected the sheep from attackers. They cared for wounded and sick sheep, nursing them back to health. They rescued them if they became lost or trapped. They spent enormous amounts of time with them guiding them to the places of nourishment and rest. The result was a trust and relationship that kept the sheep following the shepherd. The sheep were attuned to the shepherd’s voice to the point that even if they were temporarily mixed with another herd, at the call of the shepherd they would separate and follow him. This is like what Jesus does for us.

As the years go by our hearts should become more like Christ where His love and compassion flows through us. We too should want to care for others in the Jesus way. We might not all be called to shepherd a church, but I believe we are all called to look after those around us in a compassionate and shepherding type of way that Jesus did.

Jesus’ love took Him out of His way for the one person

Jesus love meant that He would go on a long journey for the one person.

In John 4:3-7 it talks about the woman at the well. Verse 3 starts with, “So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” The story goes on to say that Jesus told her everything she had ever done. The journey was about 110 kilometres or two and a half days on foot. It would be like walking to Merredin and back to reach one person!

Jesus also travelled a long way for the Demon possessed man in the cemetery. In Mark 5:1-8 we also see, “They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” The story goes on to say that the demons came out and went into the pigs and the man was in his right mind again.

On both of these occasions Jesus travelled a long distance to reach one person. The Bible tells us that the woman at the well ran and told everyone about Jesus. Bible scholars tell us that she was the first evangelist for the region. On the other hand, we don’t hear much more of the demon possessed man who was healed. The last we heard Jesus told him to go home to his family and tell of what the Lord had done.

As I read about Jesus example of going out of His was for people I can’t help but ask, “Is there anyone in my life that Jesus needs me to go out of my way for?” How about you? Is there anyone in your life too? Like the lost coin and lost sheep in Luke 15, they might need our help to be found.

Jesus’ love was a servant hearted sacrificial love

In Mark 10:35-45 we see what servant hearted sacrificial love looks like. “James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”  “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.   They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”   “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”  “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”   When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.  Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In John 13 we see the type of servant attitude that Jesus wants for His followers.  He stands during the middle of the Passover meal, takes of His outer robes, readies a basin of water and washes the disciple’s feet. Normally this would be the job of the host to designate a servant to do this, but as it was a private gathering, there was no host and no servant. Jesus took on this role as a voluntary humiliation to teach His disciples a lesson about servant hood. Jesus doesn’t want leaders and people who will lord it over people, He wants humble servants who will take on any role. In the Luke version of this story it followed the discussion on who would be the greatest and who would sit at Jesus’ right and left hand.

In Philippians 2 the Apostle Paul reminds us of the attitude we should have. The attitude of Christ.

He says in Philippians 2:3-11 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:   Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. He left the glories of heaven to live amongst us. He came to show us the Father, to teach how to live and to die on the cross in our place. Jesus humbled Himself to die on a Roman cross to pay the price for our sin. The most humiliating way a person could die. In Jesus’ very own words, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13) Jesus’ love was truly servant hearted and sacrificial.

Closing

In closing today let us remember the type of love that Jesus showed when He lived amongst us.

  1. Jesus’ love met people’s basic needs – He fed, healed, gave life.
  2. Jesus’ love showed compassion and the desire to shepherd the people
  3. Jesus’ love meant He went out of His way for one person
  4. Jesus’ love was sacrificial and servant hearted – He gave everything, even His life.

Let us be inspired by Jesus’ life and the example He left us.

Amen

 
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