May 11, 2009, 6:18 AM
“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying; “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
“Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51) He was heading for Jerusalem to embark on the final lap of his earthly existence. There he would face death and the cruelty of his enemies – the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Nothing could have stopped him, not even the deep apprehensions and fears expressed by his disciples. He was born to die and that was the reason he came to this earth. His actions were governed by his love for humankind and nothing could alter that.
Now, on his way to Jerusalem, he purposed to pass through Samaria. “And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to make the necessary arrangements for his visit; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:53) Bible history recounts that the Jews and the Samaritans did not make good bed fellows. “The Samaritan woman at the well said to Jesus, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans).” (John 4:10) That he was despised in certain quarters did not vex Jesus either because even in his hometown he was not greatly loved. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46) a certain Nathaniel remarked. Did Jesus react? No! Love encompasses all.
James and John ‘the brothers of thunder’ however did not take kindly to this rejection of their Master by the Samaritans, so they asked him; “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54) Imagine having to request permission from Jesus, the very epitome of love and kindness, in order to destroy these villagers for refusing to welcome him in their midst. This is the One who instructed us to love our enemies and treat them like we would ourselves. Should he now give the go-ahead for destruction at every opposition he faced? Jesus rebuked them and they continued on their way.
At the point when he was sending out his disciples in twos to preach the good news to the people, Jesus had cautioned them. “If you go somewhere and you are rejected, dust your shoes and move on.” (Matthew 10:14) No hassle! No need to get upset. There was no need to put up a fight like the prophet Elijah did against the prophets of Baal, when he called for fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice of a bull on the altar. It was no longer the Law that reigned – an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. No, it was the new covenant of love; love all around.
On the cross Jesus cried out; “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) What a thought! Imagine love still centred on his mind at the height of his sufferings! Hardly would someone think of compassion and love when all around is bitterness and hatred in a world punctuated with wars and rebellion.
Love is what should govern our steps not hatred, strife and war. The world does not know love, and that is the lesson Jesus came to teach us - the love of the Father. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
In spite of the treatment he received Jesus showed love in return. Only when his Father’s house was being desecrated did he manifest his anger, and rightly so. “It is written,” he said to them, “My house will be a house of prayer; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ ” (Luke 19:46) With open arms of love on the cross Jesus extended his love to all who desire to come to him.
Love is compelling; however indifferent or callous you claim to be, love can disarm you. It is a safe place to be. At home, in the workplace, with friends, let the light of your love shine that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Love is the primary component of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) that has far-reaching effects in our relations with God and with our fellow men and women that we all must truly seek to cultivate. Love is the key that will open any door. Strife can only thrive in the absence of love.
Love God and also love your brother and your sister, then you will be walking in love. Jesus loves all of us with an everlasting love!