the weblog of Alan Knox

Studying How Jesus Loved

Posted by on Jul 3, 2008 in discipleship, love | 2 comments

On Sunday mornings, we’ve been studying through the Gospel of Matthew. We’re working toward the end of chapter 7, which means we’ve almost finished the Sermon on the Mount. Last week, as I continued reading through Matthew, I noticed how Jesus demonstrated his love for people. I decided to study Jesus’ love in the Gospel of Matthew.

Of course, you can’t start a study of Jesus’ love in the Gospel of Matthew without mentioning the Great Commandment:

And one of them [the Pharisees], a lawyer, asked him [Jesus] a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40 ESV)

Apparently, love is very important to Jesus. He said that the Law and the Prophets (probably a reference to the Hebrew Scriptures) depend upon both loving God and loving others. How did Jesus demonstrate that love? How did he model love for us?

Certainly, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us both to love our brothers and sisters (Matt 5:21-26), and also to love our enemies (Matt 5:43-47). But, Jesus did much more than teach us to love with his words. He showed us what it meant to love.

Jesus cared for those who were hurting – either with physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual pains (for example, Matt 4:23-25, 8:2-3, 8:5-13, 8:14-15, 8:16 – not that these are only a few examples that surround the Sermon on the Mount). Jesus demonstrated his love by spending time with people – both with those who followed him closely, and with those who did not follow him closely. While we may notice that Jesus often had the harshest words for those who considered themselves the most religious, we should also recognize that Jesus continued to allow them to ask him questions. He did not give up on them.

Jesus spent time with people in their homes. He spent time in Peter’s home. He also spent time in Matthew’s home along with Matthew’s friends who the religious people labelled as “tax collectors and sinners” – those who were not worthy of being loved.

Perhaps one of the clearest images of Jesus’ love in Matthew (apart from the Passion narratives) occurs in chapter 18. In that chapter, Jesus teaches about kingdom in terms of love, mercy, and forgiveness. Specifically, he compares himself to a shepherd who will go out into the wilderness in order to find one lost sheep.

We know that Jesus desired for his followers to imitate his love – by the power of the Spirit, of course. When Jesus told his followers to pray for harvest workers in Chapter 9, he then immediately sent them out in Chapter 10. What did he tell them to do?

And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. (Matthew 10:7-8 ESV)

As the apostles proclaimed the kingdom of God in word, they were also supposed to demonstrate the love of God in actions.

Then, of course, we cannot forget the Passion. Paul tells us that through his death, Jesus revealed the love of God and demonstrated to us how to love one another:

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)

In light of Christ’s death, we should also remember that we have been called to take up our cross as well (Matt 10:38, 16:24). While taking up our cross and following Jesus is not limited to demonstrating God’s love to others, it certainly includes demonstrating God’s love.

This was a very interesting study for me. I enjoyed learning about how Jesus demonstrated his love for people in the Gospel of Matthew.

To be honest though, this was a difficult study – not because of the material, but because of the interruption. People kept emailing, calling, and stopping by the house to tell me about their problems. Some people were sick; some had friends or family in the hospital. One guy was having trouble dealing with his children. Another woman was struggling in her relationship with her husband. It seems like every time I really focused on the love of Jesus, someone would interrupt my studies. I can understand now why so many pastors and scholars like to have office hours where they won’t be disturbed as often. I mean, how am I supposed to learn about Jesus’ love when all of these people keep interrupting me?


2 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 7-3-2008

    You are a funny dude Alan! Hey pray for me bro. I will be traveling to my in-laws home this weekend with my wifes sister and husband. We all get along very well. I actually rarely have problems with people because I am loud, goofy and always joking or laughing (it helped me get through my younger years I guess).

    However they are both pseudoish Christians. My mother-in-law goes to church every sunday but has been in an un-ordained relationship for at least 15 years or so. She is also pretty nice and we get along quite well. But I really want to walk them through the Gospel by life and word. Pray that I am not too pushy and that God will open the door for the Gospel to be laid out clearly. Not arguing minute points of doctrine but the centerality of Jesus in purchasing a people for God.

    But if not, pray that I would love them and entrust them to the Spirit. Many times I can inwardly be judgmental which causes me to be passive agressive or even detatched (I will go somewhere and read instead of engage). So pray that I would enjoy them and if they continue to just be Sunday goers that God one day would snatch them from the fire. I said all of this because even the woman at the well had some religous affiliation and sometimes I want to flee people who profess Christ but live lives defined by immorality.

    So another question how do you deal with such individuals who profess Christ are Sunday attendees faithfully but live lives opposite of the Gospel and maybe wouldn’t even affirm the exclusivity of Christ in salvation? Thanks.

  2. 7-3-2008

    Lionel,

    I’m praying.

    I try to be consistent in how I treat anyone who claims the name of Christ. I try to listen and learn from them, as well as teach and disciple as opportunity presents itself. However, if someone claims the name of Christ and lives in a way contrary to the gospel, is divisive, refuses to work, or lives in unrepentant sin, then Scripture tells me to separate from that person.

    -Alan