When Profound Love Shows Up In Your Life Unexpectedly
Have you ever considered the unexpected places where love shows up? I recently read about a little girl who had befriended an elderly gentleman. She became a hero when she showed him love and kindness after his wife had passed away. She didn't know what she was doing, she was just being friendly. To him, she gave him hope that life still had something so beautiful to offer. Love showed up unexpectedly through a small child.
Read Matthew 14:12-32 and Luke 23:26-43
These are two unlikely stories to pair together, but they are so incredibly important! Love showed up in two unexpected places. Love showed up during another time of grief and turned everything around for hope. Love showed up during Jesus' crucifixion and offered hope, yet again.
In the first passage (Matthew 14), we jump in where Jesus learns of his cousin's (John the Baptist) death. If you've read the account of John the Baptist's death (found at the beginning of Matthew 14), you'll know the how and why of why he was murdered. It's heartbreaking. It would be so heartbreaking to hear how needlessly your loved one had died. That's what Jesus experienced.
His response was to get on a boat and go to a desolate place by Himself. He wanted to take that moment to just grieve. Instead, crowds heard of His whereabouts and followed Him.
Even by our own humanly standards, we'd all agree that He had a right to take some time to Himself and grieve the loss of His cousin. In fact, we'd encourage Him to take that time. Instead, He sets aside His own desires and He takes care of the crowd's needs ahead of His own.
This is ministry. People are the ministry. They're not the inconvenient part of ministry, they're the reason for ministry. Here's the thing: This ministry isn't reserved for only pastors. It's reserved for anyone who bears the name of Christ. It's reserved for anyone who strives to be Christ-like (or Christian). This ministry is to show love at all times, even when we don't feel like it.
Love showed up in the middle of that crowd. Love healed them. Love provided food for their hungry bellies. Love showed up out of the unexpected place of grief.
In Luke 23 we enter into the story of the crucifixion. What strikes me the most is that Jesus was basically silent (or said very little) from the time He was betrayed until we meet Him here. He talked at some moments and was completely silent in others. What grabs my attention is who He did choose to speak to.
Here we see Him addressing women who were mourning and lamenting for Him. While He hung on the cross in between two criminals, He addressed the criminal who truly understood exactly who Jesus was/is. He understood that Jesus was innocent of the crimes He was dying for. He also understood that Jesus had the right to welcome him into His kingdom.
What amazes me even further is that in the midst of all the noise surrounding the cross (the women weeping and lamenting, the casting of lots to divide Jesus' garments, being scoffed at by the rulers, being mocked by the soldiers, and the other criminal's additional mocking), He focused in on the criminal who understood who Jesus really was. In the midst of the chaos, He picked out the voice of one and addressed his desire for salvation. If the noise wasn't enough to distract Jesus, the pain should have, wouldn't you think? Instead, Jesus was distracted from the noise and the pain by one small request to enter Paradise.
Love was displayed on that cross, dying a criminal's death. Love showed up in the unexpected place of a death sentence. Love noticed the heart of a dying criminal as he hung there next to Jesus.
What We learn: Unexpected Love
Love Interrupts. It interrupts our grief, it interrupts our pain, it interrupts our to-do lists and agendas. Love distracts us from the noise, the pain, to focus on the needs of the individual. Jesus saw the mass and He saw each individual as He set aside His grief to heal the sick and feed the thousands. Jesus saw the individual in the midst of the chaos as He set aside His own pain to welcome him into Paradise. What situation will love interrupt in our own lives? What will we set aside in order to point the individual towards Jesus?
Love is personal, it's intimate. Love picks the individual out of the crowd, out of the chaos, out of distraction and declares, "You are loved!" Love declares that we are valuable, every single one of us. Love sees us for who we are, knows us intimately, and loves us despite any flaw we possess. In a crowd of billions, He can pick us out by name!
Love Prioritizes People. It understands what is important. Love understands that people are the mission. Jesus prioritized the people and the person over His own comforts. Jesus valued people, every single one of them, even the criminal who hung on the cross dying for the crime he committed. We (people) can never outrun His love for us!