In these days leading up to Easter it’s hard to write about much else besides Jesus. Even the season speaks of Him as new life punches through the hard soil beginning to thaw. The dormant seeds that were held in darkness’ grip and winter’s bite have sprouted and burst into view. The generous showers of spring’s sky pour forth. Easter is near. The sun’s rays cast their glow deeper into the evening. Death, where is your sting?
As we approach Resurrection Day I’ve been thinking about the types of people whom Jesus loved. And just as true, whom He still loves today.
#1 The Sinner
The day Jesus called Levi to follow Him, a tax collector —a profession characterized by extortion and dishonesty—He dined that evening at his home. The Pharisees accusingly asked Him why He would dine at the home of a sinner, along with guests who were sinners. Jesus’ words reveal the beauty of His character toward us: He’d come to call sinners to repentance, not those who thought they were righteous and therefore had no need of Him.
If you’re mired in addiction, if you’ve returned to that selfish sin, if you’re over yourself—Jesus loves the sinner.If you, dear friend, find yourself mired in addiction, if you’ve returned to that selfish sin for a time too many to count, if you’re so over your pride, jealousy, misery, repent—Jesus loves the sinner.Click To Tweet
#2 The Religious
As you make your way through the Gospels it’s clear that Jesus stuck it to the religiously self-righteous. He took every opportunity to expose the backward nature of a person trying to clean up the outside while the heart looked otherwise. Even so, think of Nicodemus, the religious Pharisee whom Jesus spoke with late into the night about the need for rebirth. Think of the Apostle Paul, one of the most religiously decorated Jews to whom Jesus appeared on the road to Damascus, showing him the light of the good news of the Gospel. Jesus loved the sinner but He also loved the religious, those who were sinners in a different way.
How easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking we’ve got this Christian thing down. That we can manufacture our own goodness. That we can do this thing with a few behavioral modifications. If you’re tired of even your best efforts, the burden of legalism and getting it right, repent—Jesus loves the religious.
#3 The SickOne of my favorite things about Jesus is how the sick gravitated toward Him and He gravitated toward the sick.Click To Tweet
One of my favorite things about Jesus is how the sick gravitated toward Him and He gravitated toward the sick. Whether it was Peter’s mother in-law with a fever, Jairus’ daughter who’d died, the blind men calling out to Him by the roadside, the lame man by the pool of Bethesda, the woman who’d been bleeding, the lepers or the demon possessed, Jesus loved and healed the sick.
My prayer today is that if you’re sick you will sense the love of Jesus. You are not out of His sight or care. He is acquainted with your suffering. No one knows it more deeply than Him. And as He pursued the sick when He walked on this earth I believe through His Holy Spirit He pursues you today. How much Jesus loves the sick and suffering.
#4 The Ashamed
Shame has always been prevalent, and no less so today. I meet many women covered up in their shame, whether as a result something they’ve done or something to no fault of their own. Jesus had a special place in His heart for those who didn’t belong, those who were religiously unclean, the foreigner, poor and outcast. Think of Mary of Bethany whom Jesus defended after she’d anointed Him with oil. What about the woman caught in adultery whom He protected and forgave? The Samaritan to whom He revealed Himself, a woman scorned by Jewish society? What about the lepers who were religiously unclean? How about the poor who had no standing, those He called His followers to love and care for?
Whether the shame of being a Samaritan, a leper, a foreigner, a poor person, or an adulteress, Jesus pursued those bearing shame because He bore it for us. Whatever the shame of your past, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. He delights in taking away our disgrace and covering us with His love. Yes, He loves those living in shame, desiring for you to bear that shame no more.
As we continue our journey toward Easter, hundreds more examples of Jesus’ love for certain individuals could be cited. These are but a few fresh reminders. My prayer for you this week is that you’ll spend time in the Scriptures, remembering precisely the people Jesus loved and loves this very day. And that you will find yourself among them. Because He loves you so.