Radical love

But Jesus’ message is different

Matthew 28:16-20 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Hebrews 10:24 Let us think of ways to motivate each other to love and good works.

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The contrast between the message the guards were ordered to spread by the Jewish leaders and the message Jesus told his disciples to teach could not be more different:

The premise of the Jewish leaders: If we lie convincingly enough, we can get away with murder. Jesus’ premise: God loves you so much I was willing to lay down my life for you.

The intent of the Jewish message: to save their own skin. Jesus’ intent: to save the world.

The authority on which the orders of the Jewish leaders were based: human distortion of biblical teaching (Matthew 23:23 “You ignore the more important aspects of the law: justice, mercy, and faith”). Jesus’ authority: given him by his Father, the Creator, Sustainer, and Sovereign over heaven and earth.

The heart of the Jewish message: “Maintain the status quo with us in charge.” The heart of Jesus’ message: Love God and others (Matthew 22:37-39); lay down your own life to serve others (Matthew 20:28).

Radical love. Radical service.

What does that mean to you today? I’m on a retreat with a group of lovely and strong-minded people. Many opportunities to recognize ways I’m more like the Jewish leaders than like Jesus, and to realize how generous Jesus’ love is (even for me!). Opportunities to grow!

Recapturing the joy of serving others

But Jesus came to serve

Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called his disciples together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people . . . But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

I enjoy the way my just-turned-two, almost-two, and four-year-old grandchildren love to help. Of course, “helping” can mean dumping more water on the floor than over the dishes and spreading dirt around more than sweeping it into the dustpan. The pancake batter requires a few more stirs from Grammy before it goes in the pan.

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But what I do, they want to do too. “I myself,” says Talita, struggling to get one foot into each pant leg and her shoes on the right feet–easier with Caleb’s shoes than her own. Last winter, Caleb walked behind his father industriously spreading snow back over a cleared walk, proud of his mastery of a shovel. Liliana claps her hands when she successfully clicks the upper clasp of her car seat belt and gets all her playthings back in the toy basket. The suggestion of cleaning up as a surprise for Mommy still elicits smiles and enthusiasm.

Why is it such fun for kids to copy each other and adults? Ah, a better question, perhaps: Why isn’t it more fun for me to imitate Jesus? How can I recover the simple delight of service?

Food for thought as I head into my day!