When Jesus Says ‘I Love You’
Often, those who have injured us the most have been love’s greatest spokesmen.
The unfaithful husband sang, “My bride, my jewel, I love you!” — only to kiss her cheek and depart to his mistress’s bed. A seemingly faithful friend swore, “Brother, I love you!” — only to leave the dagger in your back after his embrace. The co-dependent mother muttered, “It’s only because I love you my child!” as she devoured him like a black widow.
So we may conclude that talk is cheap. The inflation of pretty words and Hallmark sentiments bankrupt the three little words that should be most precious: I love you. In the midst of profuse pleasantries and sweet nothings, how can we — as a friend asked me the other day — trust these words when they come from our Savior’s lips?
A Love from Greater Heights
The answer I wish I had ready for my friend is this: Jesus professes his love from greater heights. Your Romeo may have sung up to you in your tower only to leave the next morning. Your father may have professed his love to you as he tucked you into bed, only to back down the driveway and never return. Your companion may have strode side-by-side with you, laughing with what seemed to be love’s affection, only to travel on and leave you behind. But Jesus does not proclaim his love from below your castle, beside your bed, or while walking alongside you. He declares it from above:
Jesus did not whisper he loves you over a candle-lit dinner. He did not tell you he loves you in a penthouse suite. He did not send a card and flowers from heaven. He did not write you a poem in the clouds. He came down to be crucified. He says that he loves you as your sin hammers nails through his hands and hangs him up on a cross. He did not simply say that he loved you, he died to display that he loved you in the most powerful way imaginable: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
So how can you know that Jesus really loves you? How can you really believe that his love will not leave like others who abandoned you? Look to the place where God manifests his love for sinners. Each wound, each affliction, each nail flashes love’s lightning. Every thorn endured in his brow, every claw withstood on his back, every tolerated mock to his misery thunders behind his words of love. He did not give us a red rose; he spilled his crimson blood to prove his profession.
Where He Proved His Love
Don’t let experience steal your great Ruby. Do not let sinners, who vampired love of its blood, keep you from Jesus’s love evidenced by his blood. Jesus is not your ex-boyfriend. He is not your absent mother or abusive father. He is not Judas Iscariot — who came as a friend but kissed as an enemy. Jesus is not like them — nor is he like us. He received the betrayer’s kiss — our kiss — and embraced those cursed nails — our nails.
And he suffered more than nails. He was forsaken by his Father as he bore our sin. He cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Mere men could not inflict this pain. Bring on a thousand bloody crosses before this. Bring on ten thousand thorny crowns and scourging whips before this. Jesus, forsaken by the world, forsaken by his people, forsaken by his disciples, is now forsaken by his Father.
Now consider: Did he writhe in agony on a cross, lay down his life, drink your cup of judgment just to abandon you later like sinners have done in your past? Did he cross the desert of wrath, slay the great dragon, and win his bride, with intentions to eventually divorce her?
Oh How He Loves
We dishonor him by looking at the cross and seeing an unfaithful human love. Others may have abandoned you; he did not. Others may have broken promises; he does not. Others’ love expired or were broken in death; his will not.
Lost soul, return home to God’s love. Beloved saint, warm yourself by the flames of this love.
The Savior built an everlasting memorial of love in his death atop a hill. From these heights, he proved his trustworthiness. He exalted his word of love by lifting up his mangled body. His word stands as far beyond questioning as his body now stands beyond the reach of Roman spears.
He is infinitely trustworthy — even with our love.