Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jesus Is Not Embarrassed To Love You

This weeks study in Mark for bethel youth brings us to a beautiful picture of God's heart for us. The last section of chapter 1 of Mark (1:40-45) tells the story of an encounter Jesus has with a man that happens to have leprosy. First, if you don't know what leprosy is you can do a quick little internet search and you will soon become disgusted. Basically, it is a nerve disease that usually causes people's limbs and body parts to rot away and fall off their bodies while they are still alive. A person with leprosy would smell like dead rotting flesh, they would look, for the most part, like a zombie - the walking dead!

Something import to understand for the context of this story is, a person with leprosy in Jesus' day was an outcast. He would be cut off from his family and friends - everyone he ever loved - and his community. They were considered unclean. They were unable to worship God in or even near the temple. They would be sent outside the town to live with others who were plagued with this awful disease... they would be left alone to die... alone... helpless... and broken. If ever they came into contact with people they were to shout out, "UNCLEAN!" So that people would know to stay clear so they would not be infected or disgusted by this poor creature. This was a horrible life. They were separated from God and people.

But here in this story... a beautiful thing happens. A man with leprosy approaches Jesus and acknowledges that if Jesus is willing, he knows Jesus is able to heal him. Here is Jesus... the Rabbi. The Good Teacher... he could have chastised the man for even coming near him and into the town. He could of turned away in disgust. But he doesn't...

Mark tells us that Jesus is moved with compassion... Jesus, the Creator, is moved with love and empathy for this man...and reaches out his hand to touch him. Jesus touches this unclean man! He touches him, and he heals him! This is huge! Jesus was not disgusted, ashamed, or embarrassed to be seen with this man... to touch this man... to love this man. He was willing to heal him...more than that... HE LOVED HIM UNASHAMEDLY! There is more to this story that is so beautiful, but for the sake of a thought I want to camp out here.

Do you understand what this tells us about Jesus. Do you understand this tells us about about our God? He is not embarrassed by you! He is not ashamed of you! He does not look at you and your sin and your brokenness and your shame and chastise you! He doesn't turn his head in horror. No! He looks at you with compassion and love and says, "I love you and I am willing to heal you!"

Jesus is not like us. He does not look down on people who are struggling. He does not look down on the broken. He doesn't turn away from people because they are bad for his reputation or his image. We do that. We do that all the time. We reject and often openly look down on people who are different than us or sin differently than we do...people who make less money than us...people who have different addictions than the ones we have. But this is not so with Jesus! He is different.

Friends, we don't have to approach Jesus with shame or timidity, wondering if he is going to accept us. We can approach him with confidence...confidence in his love and the finished work of Jesus on the cross for our behalf. He has already proven his love to us.

So what keeps you from coming to him today? Why do we tarry to come to him? Go...boldly...go...he is ready and he is willing to heal you! All you need to do is humble yourself enough to turn around and ask him to help you. He is already waiting for you with open arms!

But don't stop there! Understanding this about Jesus...seeing how radically and scandalously he loves us and offers us forgiveness and grace without any merit on our part should impact us and shake us to the core. It should shape how we see and love others. Do you call yourself a Christian? If you do...are you loving people this way. Are you loving people who do not deserve your love, your help, your kindness? If not, why!? This is how Jesus has loved you. Do you get that today? Do I?

Do with this what you will. I was just deeply challenged and wanted to share this with you. I pray that you see the love of Jesus in this today. Be encouraged. Be challenged. Ask the Holy Spirit to break your heart for people. Ask the Spirit to move you and shape you and re-orient your life and you affections to his heart. Cheers.

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