What Kind of Love

“Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” John 20:20

The disciples were behind locked doors fearing for their lives. A few days earlier they had witnessed the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter had denied knowing Jesus and the other disciples had fled when Jesus was taken. The reason for their fear was that they had not listen carefully enough to Jesus words and hence not taken them into calculation. On at least three occasions He told them about His coming death and resurrection.

When Christians fear it is for that same reason – in some matter we have not heard at all, not considered carefully enough, not believed or taken on board, something that Jesus has said. The cure of fear is to draw near to and see the risen Jesus. We have His word to read and consider as often as we desire.

Not many days before His crucifixion and resurrection Jesus said to His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” and “I will come to you” (John 14:2-3, 18). Somehow these kinds of statements by Jesus were not on their minds while their hearts were in turmoil over His crucifixion and the perceived hostility against themselves.

Our lives will be in turmoil from time to time and we may have fears but just as the disciples were at rest in their souls and were glad in their hearts when they saw Jesus so will we.

What was it that they saw in Jesus that gave them this joy and peace? Was it just because they saw Him alive or was there more? The beginning of the verse gives us the answer: “He showed them His hands and His side” where the nails had penetrated and fixed Him to the cross and where the spear had caused His blood to pour out. When they saw His hands and His side they also saw His sacrificial and unconditional love. That is what brought peace and joy to their hearts.

When we see the nail prints in His hands we see His kind of love. His “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). To know Jesus is to love Him. If we are to experience this peace and gladness we must see Jesus. When we see the kind of love and magnitude of His love written in the nail holes and the gash in His side, we will no longer be in turmoil but trusting Him to care for us and our concerns for eternity. “Behold what manner [kind] of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).

Tender Affection

“When He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3

Many years ago before I was married my friends sometimes visited me at home but I would do little or nothing in preparation. The day came when my fiancé, who had not met my parents or family, came from interstate to meet them and stay for Easter. There was a lot of activity on my part to prepare for her visit including the purchase of a new bed to ensure her comfort and washing the car. She was very special to me being the girl that I would marry. Nothing was too much trouble or expense to make her feel welcome and loved after three months without seeing her.

This kind of excitement and expectation can be ours as we “eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7). The apostle Paul lived in eager expectation of seeing Jesus. He wrote with longing and anticipation, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). He would later write to his young pastor friend, Titus, to teach all people to keep “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Observation over the years suggests that some Christians are satisfied that they have a home in heaven but without any real longing or eagerness to be in that home and be with Jesus. Heaven is heaven because of the presence of Jesus. Without Him it would be hell. If we truly love Jesus, there will not just be the knowledge that we will be with Him and see Him face to face, but a genuine heartfelt longing for that day.

John writes that this expectation will cause us to prepare ourselves for that day. If we remain content with a “ticket to heaven” with no thrill at the prospect of seeing and being with Jesus it may be that we do not have a home in heaven at all. Surely one in whom dwells the Holy Spirit will have this thrill and excitement that will motivate them to clean the house in readiness and eagerly look forward to the day.

When I speak the name of my wife it is with tender affection and it stirs the emotions every time. To better understand longing desire and tender affection read the Song of Solomon. When we are in intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus we will speak the name of Jesus with tender affection also. Jesus is the name by which we are saved. Jesus is the name above all names. The name Jesus means Saviour. Let us speak His name but speak it with tender affection in anticipation of His coming.

Eagerly Waiting

“We ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we are saved for this hope … we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Romans 8:23, 24, 25)

If Paul could visit our contemporary Christian Church he would probably be terribly grieved in his heart. So few of us know what he really meant. We have little or no experience of what it is to eagerly wait for Christ’s coming and the new creation and neither do we “groan” under the weight of sin, decay and death in the world.

The things that many of us seem to be eager about today is our boy/girl friend, prospective marriage partner, career, super and retirement, or the next holiday to see the world.

Paul says that this world groans to “be delivered from the bondage of decay” and that it “groans and labours with birth pangs.” Both people and the physical world we live in are “groaning” under the weight of evil and degradation more than ever.

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). It would seem that the hearts of many Christians are not eagerly waiting for Christ’s return and for the new heavens and a new earth. For many our treasure is earthly and not heavenly. Millions are still going into eternity without having the opportunity to even hear the Gospel. They are dying in natural disasters, wars, famines and through sickness, many while still children, but our concern is more focussed on our own comfort and well being. We hoard so we can live comfortably in retirement. We build “barns” to hold our ever increasing material goods, we worry about our earthly investments with only a modest thought to heavenly investments.

We have become replicas of Jonah who refused to take God’s message to Nineveh preferring they perish without God’s grace rather than that he obey the Lord and warn them of the judgment and destruction to come.

We are not called to change the world by argument or force. We are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ and prepare them for His invitation to “Come up here.” Heaven is being with Jesus.

If Jesus were to come to you and say, “Come up” would you falter or would you eagerly press into His presence?

You have answered the question in your heart. If there was a “what about …” or “who would care for …” or any other thought other than “lets go” then your treasure is on earth and you are not “eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of your body.”

You can do something about that.

Purify my Heart

“Please show me Your glory.” Exodus 33:18

By the time that Moses made this plea he had already seen the burning bush and the miraculous deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and much more, and spoken directly with God on many occasions. Even so he wanted more of God.

While listening to the songs with lyrics, “I’m hungry for You” and “We want to see Jesus” I began to reflect on whether my desire to depart this body of death for the resurrection body was from a pure motive.

There is little doubt that one who is truly born of God will find this life less than satisfying. Like Satan, it promises everything pleasant but delivers everything painful and empty. Consequently we may desire to flee the flesh in order to obtain fulfilment and bliss. Surely that is a valid motivation but if it is the sole motivation then it may be of fleshly origin simply to escape pain and discomfort.

Moses’ plea came only after extended periods with the Lord and living years of an obedient and faithful life with the Lord. Yes, he was weary of shepherding a rebellious people and that provided some hiccups but the motivation we see come to the fore now is that he really wants to see the Lord for who He is. He wasn’t just tired of the earthly life; he was hungry for the Lord, to see and be with the Lord.

As I listened to the songs and reflected, I was reminded that often my motivation was simply to escape the effects of the curse on this world but I was pleased to discover the Holy Spirit at work in my heart revealing a love for Jesus and a desire to see Him just for who He is. As John writes, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2, emphasis added).

We may readily find motivation to “not love the world or the things of the world” (1 John 2:15) but do we really love Jesus? We sing songs that say we do but we might do well to meditate on Peter’s profession (John 13:37), denial (John 18:17, 25, 26) and restoration (John 21:15-19). Before the cross he believed he loved Jesus to the extent that he would gladly give his life. After denying knowing Jesus he could not confess to loving Jesus with unconditional, self-sacrificing love. Oddly enough, this was probably the moment when he loved Jesus with all purity. It may be that for many of us we are too glib in our confession of love for Jesus. When we seriously question our love for Jesus and feel His gaze into our hearts that is perhaps when we love Him most.

How will it be when you see Jesus face to face; joy or shame? John went on to write, “… we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). Looking forward to that great moment when we see Jesus face to face in resurrected and glorified bodies will purify our motives for wanting to see Him as well as purify the way we live now.