“Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” John 21:16
Love is an endearing term; we say we love the beach, trees, hotdogs, and warm summer days. We also love our family, friends, and our neighbor. But when we say we love Jesus our Lord, suddenly the very definition of love expands exponentially because now we are not only committing to share our love with others, we are also sharing the love of God through our Risen Savior Jesus Christ. Beth Moore, Christian author, would always say “love is a verb.” Love is an action word which commits all who say they love Jesus to a life of service to others , of seeing others as Jesus sees them, and living a life of grace and peace. Saying “I love you” is more than just something to say, it is a commitment of truly sharing the same love that Jesus has shared with you with someone else. For Jesus, love is not offered to a cause, it is offered to people. When we pray for others, we are confessing our love of God through extending Jesus to someone else in need. Prayer is affirmation of the active presence of God and our love of God that sets our lives in motion for the benefit of somebody else. Prayer becomes an action when we not only say we will lift someone up to the Lord in prayer, but we “just do it.” We pray because we love God so much we just cannot stop; we pray without ceasing. When we say we love someone we are promising to be “there for them,” no matter the challenges that they may be facing. Jesus is calling us to “just do it,” just love the people Jesus died for and was resurrected to redeem. Our Christian journey is not about rules and regulations; it is about loving others with the same love that God witnessed to us at Easter. Thank you Jesus!
“Jesus said to them again, peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
If the media were a gauge of the state of world peace, we are living in interesting times to be sure. When peace is offered it typically is defined by contract or “accord.” If even one stipulation is not fulfilled, then peace will soon become a distant memory and the fighting will resume. God’s peace offered by our Risen Savior does not work the same way. The peace that Jesus offers is not based upon a contract or a laundry list of things that must be done. When Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was resurrected he knew life would not be easy for them, in addition to their own personal issues, they will have the unbelief of those they encounter to battle. Before Jesus sent his disciples he offered the gift of peace, but unlike world peace that is here one day and gone the next, the peace of Christ is eternal and represents not the freedom from violence or pain but the absolute guarantee that in the midst of whatever journey we find ourselves on, Jesus is there with us. Peace is alive and well in the world because of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. All we need to do to experience the peace of Christ is to accept it; we need to know that even if there is no world peace or our lives are challenged we are offered the strength, resolve, and hope for a new day. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives so do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.” Thank you Jesus for the gift of your peace.
“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
Words cannot describe the depth of love Jesus has for you. On the night Jesus was betrayed he did not hold the sin of those turning away from him against them. Jesus never said, “How dare you do what you have done,” or “I hate you” for what you have done. Jesus did not say “you better love me or else…” No, Jesus loved his own, that includes you and me by the way, to the end. His love for you does not falter, does not fail. No matter what you have done, whatever ill-conceived word you have uttered, or uncaring thought in your head, Jesus loves you to the end. God’s love is so different from what our human emotions can conceive. God doesn’t wait around for our love; God’s love is shared even if ours falls short. When Jesus met with his disciples for the last time in that upper room, as a servant he washed the feet of his disciples, including the feet of Judas, the one who set in motion the events of the crucifixion, or so it would seem. Maybe God’s unconditional love truly set into motion the events of Jesus’ death on the cross. Maybe God so loves us that the cross was the only remedy for our shortcomings. There is light, and there is hope in the incredible and amazing grace of God. You are not alone; in fact you are the recipient of God’s unconditional love. The crucifixion and ultimate resurrection of Jesus Christ affirms that God’s intention for us is to accept the grace through our risen Savior Jesus Christ and to live a life unshackled by the burdens that seem to weigh heavy upon our souls that keep us from fully living in this unconditional love of Jesus the Christ. Accept the unconditional love of Jesus into your heart and soul; you are worthy because Jesus is worthy. Jesus is the one who died for you, especially you, so you may live. Thank you Jesus, for your incredible gift of unconditional love, that is with us, “even to the end of the age.”
“…the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully for all the deeds of power that they had seen.”
For the followers of Jesus, this was a big day. Jesus entering the gates of Jerusalem was the beginning of the end of Roman tyranny and oppression, or so they wanted to believe. The message of Jesus was one of peace, hope, and a whole new way of living. For the majority of those in the crowd, however, it was just noise, a distraction from business as usual. Maybe Jesus and his crew blocked people from getting to the market to shop, or to the Temple to pay their tithe or offer sacrifices; certainly the Pharisees saw all this shouting and Jesus’ message as disrupting the status quo not to mention bringing into question their authority as God’s representatives. This Sunday Christians throughout the world celebrate Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. We wave our palms, sing our hosannas, and proclaim the coming of salvation through Jesus the Christ. But what about the rest of the world? What is it to them, this belief in Jesus? Is Jesus a distraction to living life, or just additional noise on the congested streets of humanity? For Jesus, entering the holy city of Jerusalem was his offering of God’s eternal love to a world in desperate need of the truth, God’s truth, in their lives. We have a way of creating our own truth based on how we think life should be rather than living how God created us to live. What began as just noise to most of the crowd ended up as an eternal gift from God to everybody, those who believe and to those hardened to God’s word in their lives. Accept the message of Jesus the Christ and take the journey of faith. God speaks, especially in the crowds of humanity desperate for the Word that became flesh and dwelled among them. Thank you Jesus for another chance…