DO YOU LOVE JESUS?

I went to a website of someone who had written a book I found very interesting, and was shocked to see that he had left the faith, and was even defending his fall as  ‘being set free’.  Not only does he forsake the God of the Bible – whom before he had praised – but also denies that there is any God at all!  In this truly is the Scripture fulfilled, “Professing to be wise, they became fools. . .” (Rom 1:22)

This man gave two primary reasons why he decided that he no longer believed in the God of the Bible – both the O.T. and the N.T.:  because God required that the Israelis kill all men, women, children, and animals under certain conditions (Dt 20:16).  His complaint was not only in the killing itself, but that God told them to do it rather than doing it Himself:  why should God have His own people take vengeance in such a way?!  The second reason why this man apostasized is that he claims that, despite promises of Jesus, God does not really answer prayers for even believers.

Many people have written this man on his blog, trying to reason with him, but he has defended his position and attacked as blind faith and foolish those who would believe in such a God.

DO YOU LOVE GOD?  DO YOU LOVE JESUS?

There are many hard sayings in the Bible for us to understand or to accept easily.  I know believers who are uncomfortable with some of the things God does – or does not do.  I have heard those who say they are believers question whether the God of the Old Testament is the same God as of the New!  Then which God is Jesus the Son of? Is your faith challenged when you are uncomfortable with the thoughts and ways of the God who claims to be the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth?

Lk 19:22-23   In this parable which Jesus told, there was a servant who did not like King of the kingdom, who had left him responsible to “do business (occupy) till I come”.  What did this King answer to such a servant of his?:  “Out of your own mouth I will judge you, wicked servant.  You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.  Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?”

There are at least two other very hard sayings of Jesus which challenged those who would be His disciples:
Lk 14:25-27   ‘Now great multitudes went with Him.  And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.  And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple”’.

When the requirement of loving Jesus above all is twisted to mean to actually hate those naturally closest to us, it contradicts other clear and equally radical statements of Jesus to not only love your neighbor as yourself, but also to love even our enemies.  What He is saying is not, “Dad, Mom, I love Jesus and hate you!”, but more like, “Dad, Mom, I love you, but love Jesus even more.” 

To carry our cross, on the other hand, is to say that we are sentenced to death!  And who wants to live a life like that in order to be a disciple of Jesus?  Many of the multitudes that were following Jesus apparently did not want to!

The other hard saying is recorded in Jn 6:53-56,60,66:  ‘Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him.”’

Even ‘many of His disciples’ said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?!’  “And from that many of His disciples went back [to their old life] and walked with Him no more.”

Jesus asked those closest to Him – the twelve apostles, “Do you also want to go away”? (v. 67)  But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  And we have come to believe and know that You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!

Do we believe and know?  What does the prophet Habakkuk have to help us when we struggle with the ways of the God who loves us?  (Hab 3:16-19)  “When I heard, my body trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble.  When he comes up to the people, he will invade them with his troops.  Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – yet I will rejoice in YHVH, I will joy in the God of my salvationYHVH God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s, and He will make me walk on my high hills.”

Our God is holy.  There is no one like Him, and it does not matter whether we understand everything or not.  But the God of the Bible is the ONLY God who is the REDEEMER of His creation and of sinful men.  “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us”. (1Jn 3:16)  THIS God – our God and Savior – came and died a horrible death.  He came in the Person of Jesus Christ, and took full responsibility for ‘the way things are’.  We accused Him of being a criminal; we did to Him what we thought of Him, and of His ‘way’. 

Jesus asked the Father to forgive us for we knew not what we did, and the Holy Spirit calls on men everywhere to repent, and receive this grace by which we stand in hope of eternal life.  Do we find ourselves retreating from abiding in Jesus when people accuse Him of being in any way evil; or are we willing to die for Him – to lose our own life or reputation – for Him who alone would come down to us to be crucified in our place in order to reconcile us to this God who is an awesome God, and a consuming fire?

As we take the Lord’s Supper together, let us examine and judge ourselves – and check our hearts – if we really do love Jesus – because we do believe and know Him who has brought us back home to our Father in Heaven.

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