With the year coming to an end, I am looking forward to the beginning of a new one. Before the new year starts is a very important birthday: the birthday of Christ. Every year the church and Sunday school classes go through the story of Jesus’ birth, but at home this year I am doing something different. With the kids, I am looking into the why he came and the biggest thing he had to teach us: love.
Love is not always the romantic type of love.
Many who have been married or have been to a wedding, know 1 Corinthans 13:4-8a, which says:
Love is patient; love is kind…
and so on. But this verse is for more than just marriages. This verse is for every kind of relation and interaction between us and others in this world. Over and over again Jesus struggled to get even his disciples to understand this concept of love. Without this understanding, they would not completely understand why He had come to earth in the first place.
The love of a child.
As parents, we know we have a special connection to our children. The love we have for them is unlike any other love. We strive to teach them right, guide them in the right direction and prepare them for the world on their own.
One of the things we have to prepare ourselves for is watching them struggle as they gain their footing in the world and sometimes learn lessons the hard way. In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus talks about the love of a father for his wayward son. One of the man’s two sons demanded his share of the family estate earlier than he was supposed to get it and his father gives it to him. Soon after, the son leaves to spend the inheritance on selfish and materialistic things to make himself happy, only to find out that money doesn’t last forever. The son has to learn how to survive away from home and takes up a job doing hard manual labor- but he is still starving and is treated poorly. Eventually the son returns home. He is discouraged, ashamed and ready to apologize to his father and work as a lowly hand on his father’s land since he had dishonored his father so badly.
What does the father do? He sees the son coming home from a far and runs to the wayward son. He hugs on him and gives him great robes to wear, an honorable ring to show his importance, and demands his servants kill a prized calve for a feast in the honor of the son’s return.
Jesus wept over a nation gone astray.
Jerusalem was the home of God’s chosen people, his children, and they had gone very astray. When Jesus caught sight of Jerusalem in the distance, he began to weep (Luke 19:41-42). He knew the hurt and destruction that the people in the city were going to face. He knew how hard things were going to get for God’s children- His children- and that they would not turn from their wanderings until they had learned the lesson the hard way.
As the father in the previous story probably worried and cried over the wanderings of his one son, so was Jesus with His people.
Jesus does his best to raise us and never gives up. We still wander. He still went into Jerusalem and taught and tried his best for his children. He told them what was waiting for them in His arms and at home, and what would happen if they did not turn from their ways, learn their lesson, and seek forgiveness. Jesus so loved us he had to try. He wanted to run to us, welcome us home and throw a grand feast in our honor- giving us high honors!
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus also came to show that His love isn’t just for his chosen people, but all people. He had a habit of bending rules or all out disregarding them, quoting scripture of how God wanted us to do it differently. On occasion scripture wasn’t enough so He would tell a parable to try to get others to understand. One such instance is when he told the parable of the Good Samaritan.
A man was having trouble with understanding the law of loving your neighbor as yourself, so Jesus told him a story of a Jewish man who was beaten and mugged, left for dead, and was passed by two fellow Jews and left there. It was a much hated Samaritan who took the time to help the man, feed him, cloth him, get him to safety and pay for it all.
The Jews and Samaritans were like oil and water. They could not stand each other and never mixed but the Samaritan still stopped and helped the Jew. He showed love to another as he would love himself despite social expectations.
Love is humble.
In John 13:1-5, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Now there is a lot in the bible we do not understand because of differences in customs, but I will explain something important here. A foot is insulting. Even in the Middle East today, if you sit with your foot on your knee and the bottom of your foot is showing to someone, you are insulting them in the biggest way possible.
In the time of Jesus, the lowliest of all the servants would clean the feet of your guests. It was an unclean task but it had to be done so your dirty feet were not right by the food you were about to eat.
When Jesus cleaned their feet he was showing the greatest love to them and teaching them that even the most honored man is not above showing such love and care to those around him.
Jesus is Love.
Jesus was born to us in Bethlehem. He was born to everyday people, not royalty. He came to save us from ourselves, from our sins. He came to give His all and show the love of God to all. He came to teach us how to live and most importantly how to love. After all, the greatest of these is love.