May 5, 2023 | By Jay Ashbaucher
In a small Christian home group, we were discussing a Bible passage from one of the apostle Peter’s letters. It reads, “Since you have, in obedience to the truth, purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:22-23). We asked the question, “What is this saying?”, allowing different ones in the group to share what they observe. One person said, “Its talking to persons who have obeyed the truth.” Another asked, “What truth is it talking about?” We figured out from the text that it must be the truth that comes to us from the word of God. Someone noticed a couple verses later that it says, “this is the word which was preached to you.” The group came to see that God’s word was preached to these people and they did what it said, they obeyed it. Then we noticed something more here about the word of God. The word is a seed. This got us thinking about what do we know about seeds. Seeds are things planted in the ground and they grow into plants according to the kind of seed. If it’s a tomato seed, it grows tomatoes and if an apple seed it grows apples. One thought led to another until we saw what the text said about God’s word as a seed. It is an imperishable seed. That means it doesn’t die like other seeds do. Seeds that fall into the ground and disintegrate fall apart, they die, but then the life that comes up out of them also dies. If what the word of God plants into us is imperishable, that means it produces a kind of life that doesn’t die. It was further discovered from the text that these seeds cause a person to be born again. Aha, we are born to have eternal life. What else does this text say about God’s word? More answers came as the group members kept looking at it. It says, “our souls are purified by it.” What is said about being purified? The answer finally was realized that our lives are changed so that we sincerely want to love one another from the purified heart within us.
This realization got us onto the topic of what does it mean to love one another. The group leader suggested that we look at a story in the Bible to see how Jesus loved others. The story is found in Luke’s account of Jesus’ life (Luke 24:13-35). In the story, Jesus, who had recently risen from the dead, approached two men who were walking along a road, discussing events that recently happened. We learned that these men were sad and confused and lacked faith in God’s truths because they were perplexed about the events and what they were hearing. We approached the story by reading it verse-by-verse, looking for the ways Jesus loved these two men. Members saw things about the story that others didn’t notice, and it was fun to discover together what it means to love one another as Jesus has loved us.
When the study group noticed the sadness and confusion of these men, they realized one reason Jesus came to them. Love sees the needs of others and is willing to enter into their world and walk along side of them to help. They also discovered that Jesus did not just come to them with suggestions for fixing their problem. He asked them questions to draw them out and learn from them what they were experiencing. A Proverb in the Bible says we need to listen to others before we can help them (Prov. 18:13). People feel loved when we listen to them and let them know we understand. Although Jesus knew what their problem was, he listened to them. They revealed to Jesus that they were dejected because their hopes were dashed. The person they hoped would save their lives was dead. They also told Jesus that others reported him to be alive, but they couldn’t believe it. Jesus then stepped in to help them know the truth, not only the truth about themselves, but the truth of God that they needed to believe.
Jesus loved them by revealing truth about themselves. Jesus told them they were foolish for not believing what their Bible told them about Jesus. He was not calling them names; he was just saying that it is foolish not to believe God’s truths because it is by believing them that we are rescued from our sad and hopeless lives. It is loving to confront people in a gentle and loving way, and at the right time. Some people cannot accept what others say about them and thus are not helped. Jesus then continues to love them by explaining what their Bible had to say about Jesus. They had not seen these things before; that Christ had to suffer and enter into his glory. Through God’s truths, their hearts were being encouraged. Hope and joy were being restored to them. Jesus loved them by helping them understand God’s word and promises. Their spirits were lifted up.
Another way Jesus loved them was to accept their request. When they came to their destination and saw Jesus was going to leave them, they asked Jesus to stay with them. It was love that did not leave them alone at that point. Jesus loves to hear us want to experience more of his love in our lives? Do we want to fellowship with him and receive more of what he has to offer? It was because Jesus stayed when they wanted him to remain present with them that their eyes were opened, and they recognized who he was. The more we are in the presence of Jesus, the more our eyes are opened to helpful and life-giving things we did not see before. We need to believe something Jesus promised all believers: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
After this time with Jesus, these two men could not help but tell others what they had learned. We live in a hurting world where many are experiencing a world of hurt. People are suffering from fears, guilt, shame, abuses, anger, poor living conditions, lack of knowledge, broken relationships, loneliness, suicidal thoughts, and much more. Jesus wants to love all people as he loved those two men. He loved us in our pain. We too have met Jesus in a life-changing way. Because we have experienced the love of Jesus, we can help others by coming along side and walking a distance with them, listening to them, sharing God’s truth with them, and by telling them how Jesus has helped us.