Sometimes, I need to get back to the basics. I listened yesterday to a message by Francis Chan about the importance of loving Jesus. He read from Philippians, “ I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” This message was convicting to me because I feel that I can get caught up in all kinds of wonderful religious ideas, but what is the focus of this? It can be me, and all of my “wonderful” ideas. I want so much just to be in love with Jesus, for him to fill my heart — that life would be about nothing more than him.
I have been working my way back through Luke from time to time. Here are some of the passages that struck me from Luke 9.
“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Luke 9:2-3
To fall in love with Jesus is to fall in love with his message: the kingdom of God. Jesus’ passion, his reason for being, was establishing the kingdom of God, a new order in which God would reign supreme. Jesus loved doing God’s will. “My food is to the will of him who sent me…” (John 4:34) For him, there was never a question of doing anything else. He loved allowing God to be the absolute monarch of the universe, and live every aspect his life in reverent submission. And with every fiber of his being, Jesus wanted others to come to honor God in the same way.
To fall in love with Jesus is to gain his heart of compassion. Not only did Jesus send out the disciples to preach, but he sent them out to heal. Yes, his message was that we must all put God first in our hearts and obey him. But It was never just about obedience. Obedience and compassion always went hand in hand. What a God, who is not only to be held as high and holy, but would have our hearts be moved about the plight of each individual!
“Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here. He replied, “You give them something to eat.” (Luke 9:12-13)
To fall in love with Jesus is to let his hope fill our hearts. Jesus wasn’t intimidated by difficult situations. He faced them with the calm assurance that there was a solution. The storms didn’t bother him. The raging crowds didn’t phase him, nor did people who tried to seize him before his time. He didn’t feel depleted, and unwilling to deal with the needs of others. He opened his heart and wanted to meet their needs. He believed there was a way.
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.” Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. (Luke 9:20-21)
To fall in love with Jesus is to be so moved and attracted to this man who did not want glory for himself. I struggle with wanting praise for myself. For Jesus, it was never about him and the attention he could get from who he was or what he could do. It wasn’t about being impressive because of accomplishments, or intellect. “Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; . . . For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” I love that Jesus could cut through all of the pride and artifice of people, all of the things that we aspire to, all of the things we admire in others, and see the greatness in a child, in the simple beautiful core of what each human is.
As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. (Luke 9:29)
A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child….I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.” “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied. . . But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. (Luke 9:38-42)
To fall in love with Jesus is to be awed by his divinity and power. Evil is not stronger than he is, and he is ready to vanquish it in our lives!
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51)
To fall in love with Jesus is to be thankful that he was so determined to complete the work that would bring me close to him. Nothing would deter him. He did not procrastinate, or compromise what he needed to do. He knew what was truly important, and that is what dictated his course of action.
I watched a couple of episodes of “My Fair Wedding” yesterday. A wedding can generate an enormous amount of hoopla. And it makes sense to people to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to create this elaborate, beautiful celebration, because it is an expression of something so immeasurably wonderful — love.
And if we can have weddings as a time to commemorate love; weddings filled with flowers and beautiful decorations and feasting and dancing; then we can have heart bursting devotional times with the God who is love, and Christ, the bridegroom who came to earth to seek his bride. May I remember to keep it simple and just love Jesus.