What Kind of Love

“Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” John 20:20

The disciples were behind locked doors fearing for their lives. A few days earlier they had witnessed the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter had denied knowing Jesus and the other disciples had fled when Jesus was taken. The reason for their fear was that they had not listen carefully enough to Jesus words and hence not taken them into calculation. On at least three occasions He told them about His coming death and resurrection.

When Christians fear it is for that same reason – in some matter we have not heard at all, not considered carefully enough, not believed or taken on board, something that Jesus has said. The cure of fear is to draw near to and see the risen Jesus. We have His word to read and consider as often as we desire.

Not many days before His crucifixion and resurrection Jesus said to His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” and “I will come to you” (John 14:2-3, 18). Somehow these kinds of statements by Jesus were not on their minds while their hearts were in turmoil over His crucifixion and the perceived hostility against themselves.

Our lives will be in turmoil from time to time and we may have fears but just as the disciples were at rest in their souls and were glad in their hearts when they saw Jesus so will we.

What was it that they saw in Jesus that gave them this joy and peace? Was it just because they saw Him alive or was there more? The beginning of the verse gives us the answer: “He showed them His hands and His side” where the nails had penetrated and fixed Him to the cross and where the spear had caused His blood to pour out. When they saw His hands and His side they also saw His sacrificial and unconditional love. That is what brought peace and joy to their hearts.

When we see the nail prints in His hands we see His kind of love. His “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). To know Jesus is to love Him. If we are to experience this peace and gladness we must see Jesus. When we see the kind of love and magnitude of His love written in the nail holes and the gash in His side, we will no longer be in turmoil but trusting Him to care for us and our concerns for eternity. “Behold what manner [kind] of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).

Everlasting Joy

“When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish and the hope of the unjust perishes” Proverbs 11:7

Jesus said that He came to save that which was lost (John 3:17; Luke 19:10) and He has sent all who have been saved to continue His mission. While we are often inclined to only speak of the blessings that come to those who respond positively to the Gospel of Christ it is also necessary to speak of the tragedy that awaits those who reject Jesus. Jesus frequently does this. The watchman must give a clear warning of the danger in order to rally a response.

Quite likely we have all experienced times when we have put a lot of time and effort into achieving a certain goal only to have it unravel and remain unrealised. That is a disappointing and deflating moment as we consider the wasted time, energy and effort. Multiply that thousands of times over and we will begin to understand the depths of anguish and futility that the one who has his expectation bound in this life will realise immediately after bodily death. There will be the realisation that his ambitions and everything he laboured for all have come to nothing, are of no value and his life wasted in futility. There will also be the gut wrenching moment of realisation that there is no second chance.

The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus has provided a sure expectation that will not end in futility. The reason for Jesus coming was so that we might be saved from sin and its consequences. He is the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world on Calvary’s cross. Jesus said that He came that we might have abundant life (John 10:10).

He also said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). An attempted burglary next door, as this article is being composed, put these words into perspective.

Let us not treasure earthly temporal things but rather treasure those things that are eternal. Later in Proverbs eleven we read, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise” (v 30). Christ’s mission is our mission, to seek those who are lost that He might save them. This will be eternal treasure from which there will be only everlasting joy.

The Road Ahead

“Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud remained above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would remain encamped and not journey; but when it was taken up, they would journey” Numbers 9:22

It would be a rare person who had no interest in what lay ahead in their lives. It would be so rare that we might consider that person not sound of mind. Historically people have tried and tested many methods of discovering their future for both short term and long term. Our daily papers and other media pamper to this desire in people. Even though they all fail the test of 100% accuracy many people still turn to them in a vain attempt to quieten their anxiety. The opposite seems to be the case. They become more anxious.

God says to us through the Apostle Paul, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). The fact is that we can either remain anxious or pray and trust the Lord.

The Lord told Abraham what He was about to do in Sodom (Genesis 18:17, 18) because he was His friend (Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). The Lord tells believers future events for their comfort (1 Thessalonians 4:18) and not be anxious. This is one of the reasons God has told us things before they happen. He also tells us things ahead so that we can discern that it is truly Him speaking (Deuteronomy 18:15-22). The test of a true prophet of God given in this passage is 100% accuracy. All other future tellers are false.

A new generation of Israel that did not know slavery in Egypt was growing and, like all of us, had a tendency to be anxious about the future. This generation had not seen the signs and miracles in Egypt or the Red Sea crossing but they would have to learn to trust and obey the Lord. People will only voluntarily obey one whom they trust. To build this trust and obedience the Lord led Israel through the wilderness areas for forty years. They did not know from day to day whether they would remain camped or be on the move. What they learned through this was trust and obedience. They were warned to stay away from others who claimed to tell the future because that would have destroyed their trust in the Lord and their obedience to Him. This did happen in later generations in varying degrees.

We can either trust Him or be anxious. We can either come to Him in prayer or go to the soothsayers of our day. Which we do will decide our enjoyment in life. The one who trusts the Lord will find great joy, peace and pleasure in obeying Him and they will love life. If that is true of us then we should expect that our faces will reflect that.

Each evening when we go to bed thank the Lord for His gracious leading and presence for that day and in the morning wake up expectantly for His gift of a new day. We may think we know what is going to happen today but in reality we only have plans that can be changed or destroyed in a moment. The Lord knows every detail ahead and if we believe Him to be trustworthy then we will trust Him and enjoy the journey no matter what surprises enter our day.

Israel was essentially forced to obey. Where the pillar of cloud or fire was, that was where the manna would be next morning. Each individual’s enjoyment of the night and day was dependent upon their level of trust in the Lord. It is the same for us.