I Will Always Love You

We are talking about love. Last week, we discussed that love should be the basis of everything a Christian does. But, what truly is love? Paul wrote that without love, we are nothing. But, what is love?
Let’s read what Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 13:1–13 NIV
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
What is love? We must know it before we can show it.
Will you pray with me?
I don’t want to talk about love today. I want to talk about Jesus.

Jesus Is Patient

After a night of prayer and significant spiritual closeness, Jesus came down from the mountain and was confronted by a crowd of people arguing about each other’s levels of faith and ability to perform miracles. Religious elites were there. Jesus’ disciples were there.
Turns out a man had a son who was possessed by a spirit and the spirit was slowly killing the boy. Jesus’ disciples couldn’t cast out the spirit. The Teachers of the Law were pushing their weight around.
Jesus looks at the dad and the crowd and says:
Mark 9:19 NIV
“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
And Jesus cast out the Spirit.
Throughout Jesus ministry, for 33 years, Jesus was faced by unbelief, by hypocrisy, by lies, by unbelievable sin. And he never wiped his hands of humans. He was long-suffering, showing love, taking time to teach.
Boy, if I were him, I would pray: “God, could you take out a few of these Pharisees?” But he didn’t. He even went out of his way to spend time with them over a meal. He was patient.

Jesus Is Kind

One day, Jesus was walking through Jericho. Crowds were lining the street. It was packed. And Jesus stopped and looked up in a tree.
And he said:
Luke 19:5 NIV
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
All the people began to mutter and complain, saying “he has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
Zacchaeus was not a good man. He was a Jew who sold himself to the corrupt Roman system as a tax collector. Not only did he collect taxes for the hated Roman system, but he took the opportunity to cheat his fellow Jews and pocket the excess.
I’m sure you can translate that to today’s society just fine. Bottom line is: you would not like Zacchaeus. And, you wouldn’t trust anyone who spent time with him.
But, Jesus did. In his mercy, he did not give Zacchaeus what he deserved. In his grace, he gave Zacchaeus what he didn’t deserve.
Jesus held back the wrath of God and showed this wicked agent of a corrupt government kindness.
I think about Jesus on the cross, looking out at those who had driven nails into his hands, hearing the hurtful mocking of the mob. And he said:
Luke 23:34 NIV
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Jesus Does Not Envy

Jesus never begrudged anyone their status and their honor. Everyone he was with, he treated equally, never being threatened.
One day, a Roman soldier, a centurion sent for Jesus, because his servant was dying. Jesus could have said that this soldier did not deserve kindness, because of the atrocities he committed, because of his status as a Roman leader.
But Jesus said:
Luke 7:9 NIV
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”
When Jesus lived on this earth, he did not have much. He traveled, sometimes ate at houses of those who were rich. Other times, he ate at houses that were poor. Other times, he ate on the road. Sometimes, maybe he didn’t.
He told one man:
Matthew 8:20 NIV
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
And he was okay with that. He was not here to climb a social ladder or gain wealth. He was here for another reason.

Jesus Did Not Boast

From an earthly perspective, the climax of Jesus’ ministry was a week before he died.
He told his disciples to go find a donkey. They did and they threw a couple robes on it and Jesus rode that donkey into Jerusalem.
People started to throw their robes on the road in front of Jesus, along with palm branches. Others waved the palm branches. Everyone was shouting.
John 12:13 NIV
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”
This was the entrance of a king!
People were lining up to greet Jesus. If it was happening today, they wanted to have their picture taken and his autograph. Some high ups from another nation came to the line and asked the disciples if they could see Jesus.
In that moment, in the height of Jesus’s popularity, Jesus said:
John 12:27–28 NIV
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
Jesus didn’t come for his own glory. He didn’t come to say: “Look at me! Look what I can do!” He came to point people to the father and to provide a way for that to happen.

Jesus Was Not Proud

This path required humility.
He is the eternal Son of God, existing in a state and place of perfection, outside of time, from eternity to eternity. The creator and sustainer of all things.
And he willingly chose to leave all that perfection, all those rights, and empty himself, being born of a virgin girl, his first bed was a manger, filled with prickly hay.
He was an outcast among his own people. Forced to be homeless. Enduring ridicule and physical pain. When he didn’t have to.
Paul writes about him.
Philippians 2:6–8 NIV
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!
The ultimate humility. Stripped naked, bear for the world to see. Dying the death of the worst possible criminal imaginable, though having done nothing. Everyone screaming: he deserves this!
And, Jesus saying nothing in return. All throughout his life, never puffing himself up, but reaching for the good of those around him.

Jesus Did Not Dishonor Others

Early in Jesus’ ministry, he sat on a mountain. His disciples at that time gathered around him and he taught them about the ways of God.
He said:
Matthew 5:3–10 NIV
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
He built on this to explain how to practically live as a follower of Jesus Christ.
He said: “You have heard it said.... But, I tell you:” Convincing his followers that the morality of the culture was not enough.
He expected his followers to live according to the morality of Heaven, and not to bring disgrace, embarrassment, or shame on him or His Father.

Jesus Was Not Self-Seeking

On the night before he was betrayed, his disciples prepared a Passover meal for them all to eat together. Normally, when each guest arrived, a servant would wash each person’s feet.
There was no servant that night. There was only Jesus.
One by one, he took their dirty feet in his hands and washed them, drying each foot with the towel that was wrapped around his waste.
His disciples were shocked and a little appalled. Jesus explained to them:
John 13:14–15 NIV
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
He didn’t seek his own good. He sought theirs. Even if it meant doing something as disgusting as washing someone else’s feet.
John says something very interesting at this point. He writes in his Gospel:
John 13:1 NIV
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
He did not come in order to make himself feel better, or to boost his image, or even to make a name for himself. He came to seek the good of humanity. To serve. To die so that others might live.

Jesus Was Not Easily-Angered

But, he did care about truth.
There was several times that Jesus could have lost his temper. Like when the Pharisees could him Beelzebub, the prince of Demons. Or when his disciples over and over again showed their lack of faith or understanding.
Perhaps when James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to demolish a Samaritan city that did not want Jesus to come through.
None of that raised Jesus’ anger.
But, the Pharisees stubbornness to to act deliberately against God, their forcing of people to follow their rules instead of God himself, caused Jesus to get angry.
A man walked into a synagogue on the Sabbath, the day that was set aside to worship God and not do any work. His hand was shriveled. Everyone wondered if Jesus would heal on the Sabbath.
Jesus said:
Mark 3:4 NIV
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
And Jesus got angry at their stubborn hearts. They were more concerned about their rules than doing good in the sight of God.
That was towards the start of Jesus’ ministry.
Towards the end, Jesus is in the temple and he sees the temple turned from a house of prayer to a market place, with buying and selling and profit at the expense of worshiping God.
Matthew 21:12–13 NIV
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
John tells us that he actually made a whip and used it on the merchants.
Jesus did not fly off the handle. He patiently taught others and called them to repentance.
But when it was time to get angry, because of the desecration of that which is holy, he got angry.

Jesus Keeps No Record of Wrongs

One day, his disciples were angry. Someone had offended them. So, Peter came to Jesus asked him:
Matthew 18:21 NIV
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered
Matthew 18:22 NIV
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
He then tells a parable about a man who was forgiven a great debt, but then refused to forgive a smaller debt.
I can’t help reflecting back on the cross. Jesus hanging there, my sins, our sins on his shoulders. He isn’t shaking his fist at us, yelling out all of the sins that are dragging him down to the grave.
In fact, in Christ, every sin that we have committed, past, present, and future, are not held against us.
The Psalmist writes:
Psalm 103:11–12 NIV
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
He didn’t look at his disciples and say: You know, you did this 37 other times this year. And he doesn’t say that to us either.

Jesus Doesn’t Delight in Evil

That being said, he never let sin fester in a person.
Jesus was in the temple courts and a woman was dragged in from of him. She had been caught in adultery. The law said that she had to be stoned.
The Jews knew that Jesus was merciful. He had dinner with prostitutes, tax collectors, scum of the earth, all the time. They wanted to trick him, to get him to deny the Law of Moses.
But he didn’t. Instead, he started writing in the dirt. We have no idea what he wrote. But he said:
John 8:7 NIV
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
All the Pharisees left, because Jesus had convicted them about their sin.
Then Jesus turned to the woman and said:
John 8:11 NIV
“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
He did not delight in evil.

Jesus Rejoiced in the Truth

Throughout his time on earth, he proclaimed the truth of God. He called sinners to repentance, to pursue the Kingdom of God. And he only provided one way for that.
John 14:6 NIV
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
When Jesus was dragged before Pilate to be crucified,
Jesus told Pilate
John 18:36–38 NIV
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.
Jesus came to proclaim truth. To hold it up without fear. Even if that truth caused him to stare crucifixion in the face.

Jesus Protects and Perseveres

Jesus had a tenacity while on the earth, buoyed by an absolute confidence in the future, that enables him to live in every kind of circumstance and continually to pour itself out in behalf of others.
The author of Hebrews said it this way:
Hebrews 12:2 NIV
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
In the week before Jesus’ death, he knew what was coming. He prayed
John 12:27 NIV
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.
His entire life was ticking down the seconds until his crucifixion, until his last agonizing breath. He poured out his life in love, knowing that the reason he came to earth was to empty his life because of love.
But, it wasn’t easy.
He staggered up the Mount of Olives. His disciples yawning, wanting sleep.
While they slept, he cried out to the Father.
Luke 22:42–44 NIV
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Because of love, he held on in every circumstance to pour himself out for others.

Jesus Trusts and Hopes

He didn’t do this because he always believed the best about everything and everyone. He is God. Therefore, he knows who we truly are.
He is the one who defines faith and hope. Because he is never faithless, and in him, hope is never lost.
Because of he is faithful and an assured provider of what is promised, his love is never-ceasing.
Paul writes
Romans 8:38–39 NIV
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
On the Sunday after Jesus’ death, Mary Magdalene was crying in the garden next to Jesus’ empty tomb.
The angels had already told the other women and Peter and John about Jesus’ resurrection. They told them that Jesus would meet them in Galilee.
But, Mary was troubled. She didn’t believe what the angels said.
In her lack of faith, in her hopelessness, Jesus appeared, and said so simply, so compassionately: “Mary.”
And, she believed. He took the time to show that he knew her and loved her as her savior.
During this time, Peter was beating himself up, because in the time of Jesus’ need, he betrayed him. He cursed God and declared that he did not know his best friend.
So, Jesus met Peter on the seashore, and let Peter know that Jesus had chosen him to be a leader of his church.
In the face of our faithlessness, in the face of our hopelessness, Jesus reaches out with faith and hope which never end.
As Paul wrote:
Ephesians 3:17–19 NIV
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
“Like Christ on the cross, love endures scorn, failure, ingratitude… At the end shines out the light of Easter. For love never ends.”

Jesus Is Love

We could take 1 Corinthians 13 and instead of reading Love is patient, love is kind, etc. We could just read: Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind.
Which actually, we just did.
Jesus showed us love, completely.
Something to note. Though most of our translations give us adjectives, such as patient, kind, etc. Each of these words are verbs in the original language. Jesus showed his love by his actions.

We Show Jesus

Having that example, we are called to show Jesus.
So, instead of placing Jesus’ name in 1 Corinthians 13, which is very appropriate, because he is our example.
Paul urges us to put our name in there. Because we are called to be living this every single day.
Can we do it? Or if we try, does our voice catch in our throats, do we start shifting uncomfortably in our seat, because we realize that though we are called to reflect our Savior, we are not doing it.
I’m grateful that Jesus gives us the opportunity to repent, to turn to him and say I’m not doing well. In fact, I’m not doing this at all. He forgives us and gives us the ability to turn to our spouse and our children, our friends, and say: Please forgive me, I call myself a Christian but I am not acting like it in the most fundamental way.
Then the Holy Spirit starts working in us, showing us how to reflect Jesus.
I find it interesting how similar 1 Corinthians 13 is to Galatians 5 22-23
Galatians 5:22–23 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Love edifies, because it releases the power of the Spirit in our lives and in our churches.
May Jesus equip us to live his character in our lives, every day.
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