One of the most curious things about the greatest lover of all time, is that there is no record of him ever saying the words, I love you. In fact, it’s beyond curious. In reality, it’s not even startling: it’s amazing that He didn’t need to!
There can be no doubt that Jesus loved people. Even His enemies knew Him to be a person of love for others.
¶ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
Dr Gary Chapman wrote a best-selling book a few years called, The 5 Love Languages. Perhaps the reason it sold so well was that we all really want to know how to love those we care about. Dr. Chapman identified 5 general ways that people like to show and receive love. He asserted that sometimes our actions are misunderstood or unappreciated because we may not have realised that someone was showing us love in a “language” because they were using a love-language we were not familiar with. Conversely, sometimes we attempt to show love to someone without appreciating that this person needed to have it expressed in a way they felt loved. For example, Dr. Chapman identified words of affirmation as some people’s primary love language. Thus, when a person whose primary love language was quality time spent the day with that person, they were surprised that the other person felt smothered and that the person spending time with them hadn’t been considerate of their dire lack of time.
Learning someone’s primary love language takes time and testing.
Somehow, Jesus just seemed to demonstrate love perfectly to everyone. He dispensed all of Dr Chapman’s five love language prodigiously. He served others. He gave gifts to others. He spoke words of affirmation to others. He spent quality time with others. And He appropriately used affection as He touched people.
Christ also demonstrated the fruit of love to others – forgiveness and acceptance. This was seen by how spoke of and to those who despised Him. While railing against the hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus loved them. Many of them were deeply touched by this love. One of them, Nicodemus, even sought out a private meeting with The Christ and received one of the greatest acts of love any teacher could receive when Jesus gave him what has become the most famous verse in the Bible. Another member of the Sanhedrin, Joseph of Arimathea, declared his appreciation for The Christ who had shown him such great love, by offering over his tomb for the body of Jesus to be laid there. Even though we read of Christ railing against the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23, His tone, His manner and His motive, were loving.
¶ “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.
In laying the foundation for His Church, Christ gave just one commandment for how His followers were to treat each other: love one another!
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The kind of love which Christ conveyed to people was so foreign, incomprehensible, and unheard of, that when the Apostle Paul wrote some twenty years later to the licentious Corinthians about their confusion of love with sexuality and grace with unconditional forgiveness he was directed by the Holy Spirit to spell out in some detail exactly what this kind of love was.
¶ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
First Corinthians 13:4-7
And when he expounded to the Romans what the Gospel was and then its implications, he spelled out that once a believer had surrendered their life Christ (Rom. 12:1) there were to-
¶ Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
He then went on to tell the Romans, and thereby tell you and me, that this looks like-
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
¶ Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
If you want to be a better lover, take note of Dr. Chapman’s advice on speaking the right language, but particularly take note of how Christ loved, then consider Paul’s detailed description of loving imperatives, and by heeding each of these, you will be a better lover.
Ps Andrew Corbett